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I have the pleasure of speaking on behalf of the European Union.
The EU wishes to inform of the policy developments that have taken place since the last session of the Permanent Forum as regards the follow up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
Most importantly, in May 2017 for the first time in 15 years, the European Union adopted Council Conclusions on Indigenous Peoples which are fully in line with the UNDRIP and the Outcome Document.
The Council Conclusions take stock of the EU’s contributions: Through its human rights policies, its development policy and financing instruments, the EU has contributed to the international advancement and recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in UNDRIP. The conclusions also note that there is room within the existing EU policy framework to enhance the EU’s impact and make the EU’s action more effective and more evenly applied in EU relations with its partner countries and in multilateral cooperation. Against that background, the Council underlines the importance of giving priority to:
1. the discrimination and inequalities based on indigenous origin or identity in relation to ensuring the economic, social and cultural rights as well as the civil and political rights, and
2. the actions taken to address the threats to, and violence against indigenous peoples and individuals as well as to human rights defenders, in the context of land and natural resources in the protection of the environment, biodiversity and the climate.
The EU's longstanding commitment to indigenous peoples’ participation in decision making is also reflected in the Conclusions. The Council underscores the crucial importance of further enhancing opportunities for dialogue and consultation with indigenous peoples at all levels of EU cooperation, including in EU funded programmes and projects under all aid modalities, to secure their full participation and their free, prior and informed consent in accordance with the UNDRIP in a meaningful and systematic way, and to inform and underpin EU external action policy and its implementation worldwide.
It is from that view point that the EU is engaging proactively in the consultations on “Enhancing the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions in meetings of relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them” and that we supported the resulting resolution (A/RES/71/321) during the 71st session.
The EU believes that this resolution outlines a robust process agreed to by all Member States. Through regional consultations and interactive hearings, it provides further opportunities to engage in dynamic exchanges and dialogues with indigenous peoples’ representatives such as the one being held in conjunction with this Permanent Forum session. The EU believes that this process will deepen the support for consensual outcomes in view of the 75th Session of the General Assembly where we will need to take decisions.
The above mentioned EU Council Conclusions also speak of the importance of further dialogues to ensure that the EU’s commitments to the UNDRIP as well as the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples are taken into account in our new policy commitments as they evolve. Of our new policy commitments we would briefly like to mention the New European Consensus for Development adopted in June 2017. The most important feature of this New Consensus is that it is based on the 2030 Agenda thereby ensuring the coherence and alignment with the global priorities guaranteeing more effective delivery on the ground.
Indigenous peoples are mentioned amongst those that deserve special attention and among those whose rights should be protected in the context of the conservation and the sustainable management and use of natural resources.
In closing, let me assure you of the EU’s support to the Permanent Forum, both within the Forum and beyond the EU will continue to work with indigenous peoples, governments, international agencies and civil society at large in promoting the UNDRIP and the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.