UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro [official profile] said Monday that five years after the passage of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [text, PDF], the international community needs to do more to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are protected [statement]. In her remarks to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues [official website], Migiro stressed both the need for indigenous people to be involved in economic development and the need for the international community to make sure that indigenous peoples' basic needs are met:
We agree that there can be no development for indigenous peoples without the involvement of indigenous peoples in every step, and only with their free, prior and informed consent. These are fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Yet we do not have to search hard to find indigenous peoples facing discrimination, persecution, displacement-even extinction. There are indigenous communities that lack clean drinking water, whose children go hungry, whose women suffer gross abuses and never see the perpetrators brought to justice. A great deal remains to be done to see the objectives of the UN Declaration become a reality.In June the UN is hosting a conference on sustainable development in Rio De Janeiro. In her remarks, Migiro emphasized the need for indigenous peoples to have a voice in that conference.
Indigenous rights have been a subject of controversy recently. Last month JURIST guest columnist Elena Landriscina argued [JURIST op-ed] that the US needs to honor the human rights of Chagos Islanders who were displaced from their homeland in the Indian Ocean when the Diego Garcia military base was built. Earlier in April the UN Special Rapporteur on Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya [official profile] investigated the rights of Native Americans in the US [JURIST report]. In March UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called on the government of Guatemala to protect the rights of indigenous people [JURIST report]. In February Anaya called on Panama's government to end clashes with indigenous peoples [JURIST report].