Nearly ten years on from the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), there remains a major ‘implementation gap’ between the rights protected by the Declaration and their realisation in practice.
This was the consistent message at the annual meeting of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which took place over two weeks in April-May at the UN Headquarters in New York. Around 1,000 indigenous representatives from around the world attended, alongside UN agencies and government delegations.
This year’s session focused on the UNDRIP’s tenth anniversary and also looked at issues concerning the rights of indigenous youth, indigenous women, and indigenous human rights defenders - many who around the world risk arrest, imprisonment and even death for fighting for their human rights.
Protection of lands, waters and other natural resources was another major issue of concern.
The Human Rights Commission’s Kaitakawaenga, Jessica Ngatai attended the Permanent Forum as part of a delegation of human rights institutions from the Asia-Pacific region.
“The UNDRIP is the result of a long and hard-fought struggle by many indigenous activists from around the world, including from Aotearoa New Zealand. Its adoption almost ten years ago was a major milestone for indigenous peoples’ rights, and the potential it offers is huge.
“The clear message at the Permanent Forum – from indigenous peoples, from UN experts and organisations, and from governments – was that not enough has been done to put the UNDRIP into action.”
Some of the barriers identified at the Forum included: lack of political will, lack of resourcing and the need to make concrete commitments and actions and for these to be monitored.
These issues have been the focus of the Commission’s own Indigenous Rights Information series.
The Human Rights Commission has been holding a series of events to promote awareness and discussion around the UNDRIP, in the lead up to the UNDRIP’s tenth anniversary on 13 September this year.
These have been well-attended and generated a positive amount of interest around the UNDRIP – what it is, what it means and how it can use to improve outcomes for our indigenous peoples.
The next event in the Indigenous Rights Information Series will be held at Manukau Institute of Technology marae on 14 June and will focus on the theme of Equality and Non-discrimination.
For more info on the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues click here.
To read the advanced report of the UNPFII Sixteenth Session click here.