United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Concludes with Resounding Support

United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Concludes with Resounding Support for Outcome Document, High Expectations for Sweeping Change

23 September 2014. GENERAL ASSEMBLY 69th General Assembly

From UN web page: http://undesadspd.org/IndigenousPeoples/tabid/70/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/197/Two-Day-World-Conference-on-Indigenous-Peoples-Concludes-with-Resounding-Support-for-Outcome-Document-High-Expectations-for-Sweeping-Change.aspx

The action-oriented provisions of the Outcome Document of the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, adopted yesterday, would lead to sweeping changes for current and future generations, participants heard at the closing of the two-day summit. “Let me further echo this call to action,” said General Assembly Vice-President Laurie Phipps (United States), urging Member States, the United Nations system, civil society and the private sector to “do your part to keep the momentum of our discussions moving forward in a positive and productive manner”.

The Document, she said, represented a balance between indigenous peoples’ concerns and what Member States could agree upon and would serve as a blueprint for the future, building on the commitments set forth in the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. She said the Outcome text was unique because of the inclusive way in which indigenous peoples and Member States were turning their shared goals into reality. The document also focused on the rights of indigenous women and addressed the intractable problem of violence against women, while speaking to the challenges faced by indigenous youth, the difficulty in sustaining indigenous languages, the need to preserve traditional knowledge and the requirement to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Those issues formed the core of the broad, integrated agenda called for by indigenous peoples over the last two decades.

Jan Eliasson, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, said the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was the foundation and a guiding star, while the Outcome Document was an inspiration and the path forward. Working together, indigenous peoples and Member States had identified important priorities and necessary actions on land, resources, justice systems, education, health and development.

However, globally, indigenous peoples continued to lag behind others on education, health, employment and even life expectancy, he said. The United Nations was currently identifying its global development priorities beyond 2015, and it was essential to make indigenous peoples’ issues a part of that new agenda. The desired future would value and preserve diversity, and required a more equitable and sustainable use of the world’s resources.

“Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something,” he said, going on to explain that the United Nations was a reflection of two realities — a reflection of the world as it was, which was “not a pretty place”, with conflicts, inequalities, poverty, violence and violations of human rights. However, the Organization was also a reflection of the world as it should be, and the job at hand was to diminish the gap between them. It might not be bridged entirely, but it could be diminished, even if just by an inch, he said.