'Serious Retreats' in Indigenous Rights Protection, Says UN Rapporteur
Tharanga Yakupitiyage - Inter Press Service
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January 27, 2017
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN/Mark Garten)
As the 10-year anniversary for the Declaration on Indigenous Rights approaches, UN indigenous rights activists came together to assess the many challenges that still remain on the ground.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, is the first of its kind to recognize and highlight the importance of indigenous rights.
“The UN Declaration is a declaration that contains the collective nature of the rights of indigenous peoples. (It) is meant to bring about remedies to kinds of historical and current injustices that indigenous people suffer,” said UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz during a press briefing on 26 January.
Though it is not legally binding, the declaration guarantees indigenous groups rights to self-determination, land, and to live free from any kind of discrimination.
However, Tauli-Corpuz noted that there are “serious retreats” in the implementation of indigenous rights, including the threat of tribal land being taken away by extractive industries.
U.S. President Donald Trump has recently announced plans to green light the controversial Dakota Access (DAPL) and Keystone XL (KXL) pipelines, projects previously halted by President Barack Obama due to concerns for the environment and lack of consultations with Native American groups.
Issues around DAPL even reached the halls of the United Nations, prompting Tauli-Corpuz to call on the U.S. government, in accordance with its commitment to implement the Declaration, to consult with indigenous groups who were denied access to information and excluded from the planning processes.
She reiterated this call, stating: “It’s regrettable that now in spite of those demands that have not yet been met…that kind of decision has to be again consulted with the indigenous peoples themselves because at the end of the day, they are the ones who will be directly affected.”
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