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The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

17 October 2016, New York – European Union Statement delivered by Dörthe Wacker, First Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 71 United Nations General Assembly Third Committee Item 65: Rights of Indigenous Peoples

– Check against delivery –

 Madam Chair,

I have the pleasure of speaking on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Armenia, align themselves with this statement.

Over the years EU has developed a number of principles and policy guidance for EU support to indigenous peoples. These have been crucial for EU’s support to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 and for its strong contributions to the UN World Conference on Indigenous peoples in 2014 and its Outcome Document.

Since the World Conference, new policy agendas and tools have seen the light that the EU believes could and should contribute to the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The EU has strongly argued and negotiated for inclusiveness at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, calling for innovative participatory and inclusive processes at all levels both in the process leading up the 2015 Summit and beyond. With its pledge to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda and all of its 17 goals are relevant for indigenous peoples who, along with other vulnerable groups, are considered as deserving heightened attention. In addition, specific references to indigenous peoples are found in two of the targets, namely on the targets related to food security and education.

Through the financing instruments, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Global Public Goods Challenges programme of the Development Cooperation Instrument the EU is supporting the Indigenous Navigator project. The Indigenous Navigator is a tool that helps indigenous communities to develop reliable community-based and community-owned data enabling them to feed into the sustainable development targets of the 2030 Agenda and to monitor progress. The grant that is shared by ILO, IWGIA (International Work Group on Indigenous Peoples), Forest Peoples Programme, Tebtebba and Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact will also include actions to support indigenous peoples in their efforts to implement their communities’ self-identified needs and aspirations in the context of the 2030 Agenda in selected countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The EU’s Policy and Toolbox on a Rights-based Approach to Development Cooperation (adopted in 2014) should also be mentioned as it encompasses all human rights and the need for their respect without discrimination, including of indigenous peoples. This important EU policy will be vital in reinforcing the measures taken to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. The rights-based approach (RBA) will also allow for an analysis of the challenges and opportunities for indigenous peoples, including indigenous women and children in benefitting from and taking part in sustainable development. The RBA further implies the effective participation of indigenous peoples and their representatives throughout the programming cycles and strategic planning of EU development cooperation.

When the EU in 2015 adopted the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, it also included a decision to further pursue the rights based approach and to ensure the mainstreaming and integration of human rights into all EU external actions. Furthermore, the Action Plan has an overall strengthened emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights. This also includes efforts to protect human rights defenders who work on land related human rights issues and indigenous peoples such as in context of “land grabbing” and climate change. The Action Plan also brings a strengthened attention to the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights.

Turning now to the indigenous specific mechanisms and processes within the UN, we would first like to congratulate the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz for the extension of her mandate and thank her for her report to the General Assembly (A/71/229). As one of the world’s largest donor for environment protection and conservation, the EU will study the extensive chapter on conservation and indigenous peoples closely bearing in mind the EU Better Regulation guidelines that provides fundamental rights are taken into account when assessing the impact of EU Actions.

Secondly, we would like to express our satisfaction with the recent decision of the 33th Session of the Human Rights Council to amend the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in line with the Outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. We have great expectations that the extended mandate of the EMRIP will reinvigorate the dialogues and dynamic sharing of best practices for achieving the ends of UNDRIP among and between UN member states and indigenous peoples.

During the 71th session, we will all be engaged in following up another recommendation of the World Conference, and that is the consideration of ways to enable the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions at the UN bodies on issues that affect them. The EU looks forward to continuing our active engagement in the foreseen consultations with a view to a consensual outcome during the 71th session.

In closing we would like to mention that the EU is further developing relevant EU policies in line with the UNDRIP and the WCIP outcome document.

Thank you Madam Chair.


* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

  • Ref: EUUN16-139EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Third Committee - Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee
  • Date: 17/10/2016

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