UN chief calls for ensuring inclusion, empowerment of indigenous peoples

UN chief calls for ensuring inclusion, empowerment of indigenous peoples

Apr 20, 2021

United Nations, April 19: United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday reminded the international community of the need to ensure "equal and meaningful participation, full inclusion and empowerment" of all indigenous peoples.
Although they represent the greater part of the world's cultural diversity and speak the major share of its languages, indigenous people are three times more likely to live in extreme poverty, said the UN chief at the opening session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
As their languages and cultures remain under constant threat, indigenous peoples have taken a major blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. "An already vulnerable group risks being left even further behind," warned the secretary-general.
Meanwhile, their lack of participation in decision-making has often meant their specific needs are overlooked or ignored. "As we work to recover from the pandemic, we must prioritize inclusion and sustainable development that protects and benefits all people," the UN chief noted.
He urged everyone to "do better" in fostering inclusive, participatory laws and policies with strong and accountable institutions that provide justice for all, and to "promote and uphold" the right to health for people and the environment.
During the session, UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said that in preparing for the next pandemic, "we must engage indigenous communities who are at a higher risk for emerging infectious diseases as a result of the destruction of ecosystems from extractive industries and climate change."
"Decision makers should reflect the population who is governed by the decisions made," he said. "This is the only approach that will end stigmatization, discrimination and cultural threats, and improve access to vital services such as education, healthcare and justice."
Source; Xinhua