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Focus on indigenous peoples' rights to benefit from global development agenda, UN says
April 25,2017   By:Xinhua
UNITED NATIONS, April 25, 2017 -- A UN forum opened here Monday with senior UN officials stressing the need to do more to ensure that indigenous peoples are able to benefit from global development agenda, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which serves as the blueprint for the world development efforts for the years running up to 2030.
 
Durga Prasad Bhattarai, the vice president of the UN General Assembly, made the remarks at the opening of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on behalf of the president of the Assembly, Peter Thomson. The forum, known as the 16th session of the permanent forum, runs until May 5.
 
"Far more needs to be done to fully realize the human rights of indigenous peoples," Bhattarai said, underlining the importance of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
 
"Targeted strategies would ensure that indigenous peoples could fully participate in implementing those accords," he added.
 
In his remarks, the vice president also highlighted that discussions were ongoing within the 193-member General Assembly on ways to enhance the participation of indigenous peoples within the Organization and urged UN member states and indigenous peoples to participate in upcoming dialogues on a comprehensive draft text addressing the matter.
 
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a comprehensive statement emphasizing the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.
 
Stressing the importance of the UN Declaration, Lenni Montiel, the UN assistant secretary-general for economic and social development, noted that as indigenous peoples continue to suffer disproportionately from poverty, discrimination and poor health care, the world "can do better."
 
Indigenous peoples' "collective and individual rights are too often denied; this is unacceptable," he said. "We must do better."
 
Noting that indigenous peoples and UN member states had requested increased engagement of the UN system, he spoke of the system's response, and cited further examples of efforts, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
 
Such efforts would continue through the new international development phase guided by the 2030 Agenda, Montiel said.
 
For his part, Cristian Barros Melet, the vice president of the UN Economic and Social Council, said that while the 2030 Agenda made a commitment to "leave no one behind," voluntary national reviews on implementation had shown the risk of indigenous peoples being left behind.
 
As "an advisory body of the Council, the (Permanent) Forum has an important role to play in providing specialized advice and recommendations," he said. "It is essential to review progress made to date and to consider what additional efforts were required."
 
The Permanent Forum should meanwhile continue its collaboration with other council bodies, he said, adding that its recommendations would help ensure that provisions of the Declaration were promoted. He also expressed hope that it would provide advice and guidelines which ensured indigenous issues remained an integral part of the UN work.
 
Also speaking at the opening of the forum at UN Headquarters in New York, the deputy executive director of UN Women, Lakshmi Puri, highlighted the importance of empowerment of indigenous women, noting that indigenous women and girls needed to be aware not only of their identity, but also their human rights, and they must claim those rights.
 
"No traditional culture or custom can be invoked to justify and perpetrate violence and harmful practices against indigenous women," she said.
 
Highlighting the place of indigenous women and girls in the discussions and outcomes of the 2017 session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, she said that the international community could no longer tolerate a situation in which such precious stakeholders and actors for sustainable development were not only left behind, but also the furthest to reach.
 
Within the UN system, the permanent forum is mandated to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.
 
It also works to raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system; and prepares and disseminates information on indigenous issues.