Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
22 October 2007
Sixty-second General Assembly
19th Meeting (AM)
GLOBAL WARMING, INCREASING EXPLOITATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES, DISPOSSESSING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ANCESTRAL LANDS
Small Number of Isolated Communities at Risk of Physically Disappearing
Despite recent progress, as seen in new norms and institutions as well as policies at all levels addressing the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples, there was still an “implementation gap” between those norms and practice, and a number of negative trends vis-à-vis that marginalized population, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard today as it held its discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples.
“Extractive activities, large commercial plantations and non-sustainable consumption patterns have led to widespread pollution and environmental degradation,” Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, told the Committee today as he presented the findings of his recent studies. The end result, he said, was that indigenous peoples, whose lives were closely linked to their lands, were dramatically affected by such trends, which had in turn led to their forced displacements.
In addition, Mr. Stavenhagen continued, various Arctic peoples were now suffering the direct consequences of global warming. And further compounding all of the negatives already cited was the criminalization of the social organizations of indigenous peoples which defended their rights. That by itself had generated new human rights violations, he observed.
The Special Rapporteur underscored that the decrease of territory belonging to indigenous peoples had been intensified by the dynamics of the globalized economy and its attendant increase in water and energy exploitation. A small number of isolated communities were actually at risk of physical disappearance because of those trends, he warned.
Many delegates mentioned the landmark status of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in enumerating the rights of that marginalized population, and reiterated their hopes that countries would work faithfully towards its implementation. Through the Declaration, many said that the international community had begun repayment of a historic debt to indigenous peoples.
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