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Statement by Counsellor YAO Shaojun of the Permanent Mission of China to the UN at the High-level Meeting Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

2017/04/25

Mr. President,

China wishes to thank you for convening this high-level meeting. With their brilliant histories and splendid achievements, indigenous peoples have made unique contributions to the development of the human society. Since the UN General Assembly adopted the landmark Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ten years ago, the international community, by actively implementing the Declaration, has achieved remarkable results in the promotion and protection of the rights and interests of indigenous peoples. However, today some indigenous groups are still marginalized in their societies and even subject to unjust treatments including discrimination and violence. There is still a long way to go before the historical injustices inflicted upon indigenous peoples are totally rectified.

First, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples must be implemented in a comprehensive, balanced and effective manner. Countries with indigenous peoples, especially developed countries concerned, must show political will and take concrete actions to include indigenous peoples in the mainstream of the society, protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms and preserve their unique cultures, languages and ways of life. Countries must pay attention to the promotion of the rights to life and development of indigenous peoples, and in strict compliance with Article 46 of the Declaration, refrain from using the question of indigenous peoples as a means to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states. The UN organs concerned should fully implement the system-wide plan of action for achieving the ends of the Declaration and effectively play their evaluating and monitoring role.

Secondly, the goals related to indigenous peoples contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must be fully implemented. Goals 2 and 4 stipulate explicitly that the income of indigenous peoples should be increased and their equal access to land and all levels of education ensured. Countries concerned should treat poverty reduction and economic development of indigenous groups as a priority, and ensure that indigenous peoples share in the fruits of economic and social development. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda should be taken as an opportunity to put legislations and policies on protecting the rights and interests of indigenous peoples into practice, and increase the pace of improving the conditions of indigenous peoples in land access, employment, education and health, so as to realize the goal of “leaving no one behind”.

Thirdly, the participation of indigenous peoples in relevant UN conferences and meetings needs to be advanced in an appropriate manner. While the existing mechanisms and practices of the participation by indigenous peoples in UN conferences and meetings remain valid, there is room for further improvement. The concept of “indigenous people” is a product of the colonial times. Not all countries have indigenous peoples and native dwellers must not be confused with indigenous peoples. The concrete arrangements for expanding the participation of indigenous peoples in UN conferences and meetings must comply with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity of the member states and effectively safeguard the intergovernmental nature of the United Nations. The GA consultations should be led by member states and work on the basis of consensus towards a program acceptable to all sides.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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