STATEMENT OF THE HOLY SEE
AT THE 69th SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
STATEMENT BY H.E.
ARCHBISHOP BERNARDITO AUZA
PERMANENT OBSERVER OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Monday, 20 October 2014
Development policies for indigenous peoples
The Holy See welcomes the recently concluded World Conference on Indigenous
Peoples and takes due note of its outcome document, which will help in the
promotion and protection of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
Moreover, my delegation is pleased to observe in the Report of the Secretary
General the achievements with regard to the goals and objectives of the Second
International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
However, much still needs to be done to safeguard the human rights and
fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world, and
greater efforts are still to be made - at international, national and local
levels - in setting development policies that truly involve the indigenous
peoples themselves and respect their specific identity and cultures.
The Holy See firmly believes that no discrimination based on race, sex, religion
or ethnicity should be tolerated. Thus, my delegation welcomes the efforts made
in several countries to eliminate all discrimination against indigenous peoples
and to promote their full and effective participation in the decision-making
process, especially on issues that directly or indirectly affect them.
Fostering indigenous specificity and cultures does not necessarily mean going
back to the past; indeed, it entails the right of indigenous peoples to go
forward, guided by their time-honored collective values, such as respect for
human life and dignity, representative decision-making processes and
preservation of community rituals. In the face of globalization,
industrialization and urbanization these values must not be simply put aside.
In this context, my delegation wishes to underline the following principles:
- The world's indigenous peoples have the same claim as every person, people or
nation to their fundamental human rights to development;
- The realization of their right to development must be as much as possible
coherent and harmonious with their specific identity and values;
- The indigenous peoples themselves must have a say on their own development.
In this sense, one should refrain from implementing criteria or setting policies
alien or unacceptable to those concerned. Policies formulated for indigenous
peoples without their active participation in the decision-making process could
do more harm than good, especially if they do not reflect or respect their
identity and value system. The temptation to refer to them merely or primarily
for folkloric effect must be resisted. Their input in the decision-making
process is vital, because the very survival of their identity and heritage could
be at stake.
While international efforts towards the development of standards concerning the
human rights of indigenous peoples are important, in many respects national and
local policies are even more decisive in respecting the specific identity and
culture of indigenous peoples and in the protection of their rights. In this
context, my delegation wishes to highlight the importance of just laws to
regulate the relationship between indigenous peoples and extractive industries
operating in ancestral lands: lands that, in many cases, are also of great
cultural and environmental significance.
As the Secretary General underlined in his Report, the Post-2015 agenda will
provide an opportunity to provide initiatives that address the need of
indigenous peoples. Additionally, the Holy See suggests that agreed Post-2015
outcome documents must also pay due attention to the situation of indigenous
peoples, and that all eventual initiatives concerning them should be inspired
and guided by the principle of respect for their identity and cultures,
including specific traditions, religious beliefs, and ability to decide their
own development in cooperation with their respective national governments and
the relevant international bodies.
In conclusion, Madam Chair, my delegation wishes to reiterate the long-standing
commitment of the Holy See towards the promotion of the integral development of
the world’s more than 370 million indigenous in some 90 countries, in all
regions of the world.
Thank you, Madam Chair.