On April 19, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave opening remarks during a Side-Event entitled “Violation of Human Rights in the Amazon: Networks to Respond to and Redress Them” that took place during the 17th Session of the United Nations’ Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues.
In his remarks, Archbishop Auza insisted that indigenous peoples should always be treated as dignified partners of their development and destiny, with free, prior and informed consent in all matters concerning them. He mentioned Pope Francis’ and the Catholic Church’s advocacy on behalf of indigenous peoples and looked ahead to the Synod on the Amazon that Pope Francis has convoked for October 2019. Archbishop Auza recalled Pope Francis’ remarks during his visit with indigenous peoples in Peru earlier this year in which he said, “The native Amazonian peoples have probably never been so threatened on their own lands as they are at present,” and noted the challenges of neo-extractivism and forms of conservation not attentive to the needs of indigenous peoples. What is needed, he said, is to change the view that looks to the Amazon as an endless mine of supplies for other countries as well as to pay much closer attention to the solutions that indigenous communities and the organizations assisting them, like REPAM, have come up with so that the indigenous themselves may be guardians of the areas they inhabit.
His statement can be found here.