27th SESSION OF THE HUMAN
BY H.E. ARCHBISHOP SILVANO M. TOMASI
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS IN GENEVA
ON ITEM 3 - GENERAL DEBATE ON "INDIGENOUS PEOPLE"
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
The social, personal and spiritual needs of the world's
more than 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries, in all regions
of the world,
have been a long-standing concern of the Holy See.
Shortly, the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples will
be held by the United Nations “to share perspectives and best practices on
the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples and to pursue the
objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples (UNDRIP)”. This
meeting represents another fundamental step to foster greater interest and
respect for these communities and offers a unique opportunity to reaffirm
the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets the minimum
standards for their survival, dignity, and well-being and promotes their
rights, inter alia, to self-determination; to land, territories, and
resources; and to economic, social, and cultural development.
As we enter the Third International Decade of the World's
Indigenous Peoples, the Holy See suggests that all eventual initiatives
should be inspired and guided by the principle of respect for their identity
and culture, including specific traditions, religious beliefs, and ability
to decide their own development in cooperation with national
As noted by the Special Rapporteur and in other United
Nations documents, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous
peoples regrettably continue to be violated, including through systemic discrimination and exclusion from political and
economic power; lack of adequate access to justice; over-representation
among the poorest, the illiterate, and the destitute; displacement by wars
and environmental disasters;
persecution, reprisals against, stigmatization and killings of indigenous
human rights defenders”.
As a result, comprehensive development is delayed, if not denied.
A specific case regards the interaction between
industrial and trans-national companies and native populations. The Special
Rapporteur refers, for example, to negative, even devastating, consequences
for Indigenous Peoples that have been caused by the extractive industries.
These corporations must overcome a specific focus on short-term economic
advantage and adopt models of authentic development which do not violate the
rights of indigenous peoples and encourage a responsible use of the
Deserving attention, moreover, is the problem of defining
and protecting folklore from becoming a commodity that can be used by anyone
without consideration of the interests and rights of the communities within
which they originated. Intellectual property and labour laws have created a
body of legal and social requirements aimed at defending the rights of
individual authors, composers and performers. Until now, however, the
negotiations have not sufficiently provided safeguards to protect the rights
deriving from folklore creations.
Mr. President, it is expedient for this Council and other
United Nations bodies to establish, as an indicator of respect for the
rights of Indigenous Peoples, their direct inclusion in the decision-making
processes related to the management of natural resources in their own
territories. The Holy See Delegation urges the elimination of every attempt to marginalize indigenous peoples. This
means, first of all, respecting their territories and the pacts made with
them; likewise, efforts must be made to satisfy their legitimate social,
health and cultural requirements. Finally, we cannot overlook the need for
reconciliation between the indigenous peoples and the societies in which
they are living.
Thank you Mr. President.
A/RES/65/198 Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 21
December 2010 available at:
UN DESA, “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, 2009
Report ; doc. A/HRC/23/32