Delegation of the European Union to the
UN and other international organisations in Geneva

ILO - GB341 - EU Statement: Follow-up to the Strategy on indigenous people's rights

Geneva, 18/03/2021 - 17:36, UNIQUE ID: 210318_13
Statements on behalf of the EU

341st session of the ILO Governing Body, 15–27 March 2021 - EU Statement: Follow-up to the Strategy on indigenous people's rights for inclusive and sustainable development, including implementation of the strategic plan for engagement with the United Nations system bodies and relevant regional organizations regarding the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples' Convention, 1989 (No. 169)

Thank you, Chairperson.

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. 

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*[1], Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.

  1. Respect for the rights of indigenous peoples is a shared value within the EU and forms part of our commitment to protect and promote human rights.
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities. We welcome the ILO's focus on promoting an inclusive recovery from the pandemic in line with the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work. Response measures must be in accordance with the rights of indigenous peoples and take account of the specific needs of indigenous peoples. Importantly, any measure that may affect indigenous peoples must be taken with their full participation and consultation.
  3. The ILO has a unique role in furthering the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, including through Convention 169. We highlight that the Convention and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) are complementary and mutually reinforcing. Both are essential for achieving the Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals. In this regard, we call for the maintenance of the active engagement of ILO with UN system bodies and entities, including involvement in the UN system's follow-up to the 2020 Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) Call for Action and engaging with interested regional organizations.
  4. We encourage the ILO to strive for further visibility and broader implementation of Convention 169, including scaling up country-level capacity-building on the Convention and designing an initiative to promote it as a framework for advancing inclusive and sustainable development in regions where it is less visible.  
  5. The EU and its Member States remain committed to promoting indigenous peoples' rights around the world, as reaffirmed by the 2017 Council Conclusions on Indigenous Peoples and the new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024. The EU has a range of policies and programmes to support indigenous peoples' rights in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).  
  6. We note the vulnerable situation of indigenous and tribal peoples, despite their protection under Convention 169, compounded by the barriers they face in accessing education, full economic participation and public decision-making. We are concerned about the income inequality, heightened vulnerability to labour rights abuses including forced labour and child labour, the protection of and, consequently, their heightened risk of facing extreme poverty, aggravated by insufficient protection of the environment of their territories. In this context, we support measures taken to ensure equal access of indigenous peoples to decent work and social protection, including access to healthcare, on an equal footing with the rest of society.
  7. We strongly support the empowerment of indigenous women and girls, their full, effective and meaningful participation in decision-making, their efforts to achieve economic independence as well as combatting violence and harassment against them. This is even more important considering the pandemic's significant impact on women and girls.
  8. On that basis, we support the draft Decision.

Thank you, Chairperson.


[1] *The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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