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United Nations

Joint Statement on The Situation of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples Facing the COVID-19 Pandemic led by CANZ, 28 September 2021

Human Rights Council – 48th session

Item 3

Panel Discussion: The situation of human rights of indigenous peoples facing the COVID-19 pandemic, with a special focus on the right to participation

28 September 2021

Joint Statement


I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of Canada, New Zealand and my own country, Australia.

The Human Rights Council has an opportunity to show leadership and ensure indigenous peoples can participate in Council meetings that affect them. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on indigenous peoples’ human rights. It is essential that they are able to participate in the Council.

The Council’s rules of procedure, however, are preventing the full participation of indigenous peoples in their own right.

Indigenous peoples must register as NGOs, and then receive ECOSOC accreditation, before they can speak in the Council.

Indigenous communities are not NGOs. 

And not all indigenous peoples have formal representative bodies that can speak on their behalf.

It is not appropriate to expect indigenous peoples to be represented solely by National Human Rights Institutions.

We support indigenous peoples in their call to establish a unique category for their participation in the UN system.

Our countries urge the Council to mandate a workshop to bring together indigenous peoples and States to consider options for enhancing indigenous participation in the HRC.

What concrete measures can the Council undertake to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and that current barriers are not further exacerbated by COVID-19 measures?

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