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17 May 2012 - The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, today hailed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted five years ago, as a landmark document that has inspired positive changes in the protection of the rights of indigenous communities.
“In some countries, we have seen the creation of specialized institutions, the amendment of legislation and constitutions, the implementation of new policies and programmes, judgments delivered by tribunals based on the Declaration, and training on indigenous peoples’ rights,” Mr. Al-Nasser said in an address to a high-level event to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration, at UN Headquarters in New York.
He stressed the need for more action, noting that a common concern has been that governments do not always involve and consult indigenous peoples when making decisions that affect them.
“To address this concern, the UN Declaration clarifies international standards on the right to participate in decision-making on matters which affect their lives,” he said, adding that access to financial and technical assistance from States and through international cooperation is also critical to the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples.
He cited the UN Voluntary Fund for indigenous populations, the Trust Fund for the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and other trust funds run by various UN agencies as some of the avenues that can be used to channel financial assistance to programmes that promote the rights of indigenous people.
“The General Assembly has encouraged governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, private institutions and individuals, to continue to contribute to these Funds,” said Mr. Al-Nasser.
He also announced that the General Assembly has decided to organize a high-level plenary meeting to be known as the ‘World Conference on Indigenous Peoples’ in 2014. The conference will be an opportunity to “share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples, with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for discussions.”
“I am of the view that the preparation process for the World Conference should be conducted though partnership between Member States and indigenous peoples,” Mr. Al-Nasser added.