On October 12, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the Third Committee deliberations of the Seventy-third Session of the General Assembly on Agenda Item 71, dedicated to the theme of the “Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
In his statement, Archbishop Auza said that the UN has made significant progress in promoting and protecting the cultural values, patrimony and human rights of indigenous people and praised the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the active participation of indigenous peoples in the annual UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Despite the progress, he said, threats remain. He called attention to the Amazon basin, where extraction has led to environmental degradation, deforestation and displacement of indigenous peoples and some land conservation policies have disrupted essential aspects of indigenous economies. The Amazon cannot be seen as a resource-rich region to be exploited or as a place where the protection of the natural environment trumps the rights of indigenous peoples, he said. At a practical level, the indigenous must participate in every deliberation that directly affects them and they should be assisted to preserve their culture and traditions without reducing their cultures to a museum of a bygone way of life.
The statement can be found here.