Statement by the Cuban delegation on agenda item 66: Rights of indigenous peoples: a) Rights of indigenous peoples; and b) Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. New York, 17 October 2011.
For centuries, indigenous peoples have suffered discrimination, plunder, and dispossession of their wealth and rights. In Cuba’s case, the killing reached such magnitude, that all our indigenous peoples were exterminated.
The adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples constituted a historic victory in these peoples’ fight for the recognition of their ancient rights.
There is an urgent need for the international community to effectively recognize the equality and right to self-determination of the more than 370 million indigenous people worldwide, as well as their right to keep their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions, without suffering on account of racism and discrimination.
In the framework of the Second International Decade of the World’ Indigenous Peoples, results have been attained in the search for a solution to the problems faced by indigenous peoples. We must continue to work to meet the five goals of this Second Decade’s activities. These activities must be in line with the guidelines established by the ILO Convention 169 and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We also encourage all to continue contributing to the financial funds established to support the goals of the Second Decade, and reiterate the importance of providing the necessary human resources to facilitate such activities.
Cuba welcomes the decision taken in resolution 65/198 to organize a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and held in 2014. We hope it will be a forum to share best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples.
It likewise appreciates the proposal by the delegation of Bolivia to commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by holding a high-level meeting next year.
One of the primary rights to defend in this context is the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination and to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
While progress has been achieved in establishing human rights standards for indigenous peoples, who account for over 5% of the world’s population, they continue to daily face serious violations of those rights. Violence, marginalization, dispossession of their land, forced eviction or relocation, denial of land rights, among others, constitute a regrettable reality for indigenous communities in many parts of the world.
Cuba insists that all cultures have the right to exist and preserve the traditional practices inherent in their identity. In this regard, we reaffirm the right of Andean indigenous peoples to fully enjoy their traditional and thousand-year-old rights, such as the coca leaf chewing; and recognize the right of the Bolivian Government to uphold and protect its peoples’ practices.
Cuba reaffirms that the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary organs should pay special attention to the full realization of all human rights of indigenous peoples under the Declaration.
It is unacceptable that those rights are sought to be included in development parameters that are rejected by virtually most of those peoples, for being alien to their idiosyncrasy and basic needs. On the contrary, we must promote a true realization of these rights in accordance with the actual needs and interests of these peoples.
As in the past, Cuba will continue supporting the just demands of indigenous peoples for the effective realization and free exercise of their rights.