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Statement by Counsellor YAO Shaojun of the Chinese Mission to the UN on the Agenda Item "Rights of Indigenous Peoples" during the Third Committee of the 72nd General Assembly

2017/10/12

Mr. Chairman,

Recent years have witnessed positive progress in the promotion and protection of the rights and interests of indigenous peoples as a result of the active implementation by the international community of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. However, there remains a worrying gap between many indigenous peoples and non-indigenous residents in terms of economic and social situations, and some indigenous groups continue to suffer unfair treatments including violence and discrimination without guarantee of their basic rights and with their survival and development severely challenged.

Countries that have indigenous peoples, especially developed countries concerned, need to show political will, formulate corresponding national plans of action, strategies and measures to implement the goals related to indigenous peoples contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, comprehensively implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and fulfill their commitments made at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Priority attention should be given to achieving poverty reduction and economic development of indigenous groups, ensuring their equal access to land and basic public services including education, protecting their lands, territories and resources, safeguarding their human rights and fundamental freedoms and conserving their unique cultures, languages and ways of life. In formulating laws and administrative and policy measures that may have a bearing on the rights and interest of indigenous peoples, care should be taken to strengthen consultation with indigenous groups and acquire their prior consent so as to ensure that their basic rights are safeguarded.

Mr. Chairman,

On the 8th of September, the 71st session of the GA adopted Res. 71/321 on "Enhancing the Participation of Indigenous Peoples' Representatives and Institutions in Meetings of Relevant United Nations Bodies on issues affecting them". China would like to reiterate that currently, there is no international consensus on the definition of "indigenous people", and that not all countries have indigenous people, still less should native residents be equated to indigenous people. The specific arrangements for enhancing the participation of indigenous peoples in UN meetings must be in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity of member states and effectively maintain the inter-governmental nature of the United Nations. The relevant GA consultations must be led by member states and arrive by consensus at an arrangement acceptable to all. China will continue to engage with all parties regarding the relevant process and play a positive role in the consultations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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