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Statement by Counsellor YAO Shaojun of the Chinese Delegation at the 15th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

2016/05/10

Mr. Chairman,

China wishes to thank the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for organizing this meeting and congratulate you on your assumption as the chairperson of the session.

Ten year ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. During the past ten years, the international community has put in great efforts and made positive progress in the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. However, in some developed countries, indigenous groups are still subject to discrimination, violence and other forms of unfair treatment. There is still a long way to go in effectively redressing the historical injustices suffered by indigenous peoples.

Countries concerned should take the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an opportunity to intensify their effort for the implementation of the Declaration. The 2030 Agenda has depicted a new vision for global development and provided new opportunities for international cooperation for development. Countries concerned must come up with political will to implement the Agenda targets related to indigenous peoples by incorporating those targets into their national development plans. Special emphasis should be given to poverty reduction and economic development of indigenous peoples, removing obstacles and restrictions that they face so as to ensure that they too can share the fruits of economic and social development. At the same time, it is necessary to create favorable conditions for indigenous peoples to live and prosper by improving their access to education, health and housing. Equally important is to promote and protect their basic human rights and freedom, preserve their unique cultures, languages and ways of living, and make sure that they have equal access to education of different levels and types offered by the State without discrimination.

China welcomes the system-wide action plan for ensuring a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples issued by the Secretariat. This in itself is an important initiative in the implementation of the Declaration and the Outcome of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. We hope that various UN agencies will take effective measures to implement the action plan. In particular, greater effort is required to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the developed countries, to raise awareness among the population of the developed countries of the need to protect indigenous peoples and to push the government to act more effectively.

Although China has no indigenous people, it firmly supports the promotion and protection of the basic rights and freedom of indigenous peoples. China welcomes the participation of indigenous representatives and institutions in the UN meetings affecting their interests, so that the relevant United Nations mechanisms could better reflect the interests and aspirations of indigenous peoples. The concept of indigenous people is a legacy from the colonial past. Not all countries have indigenous peoples and it is important not to equate indigenous people with native people. Arrangements for increasing indigenous peoples’ participation in UN meetings must be in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, ensure the respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity or political unity of member states, and preserve the inter-governmental nature of the United Nations. China will actively work with the four advisers appointed by the President of the General Assembly, listen to ideas from all parties and play an active role in promoting the participation of indigenous peoples in the United Nations meetings.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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