UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged all to play their role to ensure that indigenous peoples enjoy recognition for their contributions and the opportunity to thrive and prosper in peace on a healthy planet.
“It is essential that the rights and identities of indigenous peoples are protected,” he said urging to ensure their rights wherever they live.
The UN chief made the call in a message on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples that falls on August 9.
He said indigenous peoples have a profound spiritual connection to their lands and resources.
“Yet, increasingly, indigenous persons are migrating within their countries and across international borders. The reasons are complex and varied. Some are subject to displacement or relocation without their free, prior and informed consent,” Guterres said.
He said others are escaping violence and conflict or the ravages of climate change and environmental degradation.
Many migrate in search of better prospects and employment for themselves and their families, Guterres said.
He said migration is an opportunity, but it also carries inherent risks and many indigenous migrants find themselves living in unsafe and insanitary conditions in urban areas.
“Indigenous women and girls experience disproportionately high rates of trafficking and other forms of violence. Indigenous youth are faced with complex questions regarding their identity and values,” he added.
In some countries, Guterres said, indigenous peoples’ territories are divided by international borders and cooperation across these borders is important to safeguard their identity, occupations and traditional practices.
Later this year, Member States are expected to adopt a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
He said this will establish an international framework for regional and global cooperation.
“It will provide a platform to maximize the benefits of migration and support vulnerable migrant groups, including indigenous peoples,” Guterres said.
“On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources,” he added.