New York, 26 April 2022 (TDI): Indigenous people represent 5% of the world’s population but are speakers of 60% of the languages, said United Nations (UN) General Assembly’s President, Abdullah Shahid while pointing out the linguistic-cultural and biodiversity of indigenous communities.

UNGA President said that indigenous communities had prioritized a relationship with nature for generations. He stressed preserving and promoting indigenous languages to protect human heritage, identity, and belongings.

“We should ensure that they can participate in and benefit from the work of the United Nations,” he added. Extractive operations are significant threats to the culture of indigenous people.

The lands of these people are exploited without their consent causing irreparable damage to their livelihoods, cultures, languages, and lives. On Monday, the Representative delivered these remarks to indigenous people in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

“We share a holistic relationship with nature, where rights are not anthropocentric,” remarked Darío José Mejía Montalvo (Colombia), while chairing the session.

“An infinity of sacred histories and stories underpin our visions of the world,” the Chair added. He said that the forum’s theme touches on the cosmos vision system of food, culture, and coexistence with nature ln their land.

He emphasized the right of existence of ancestors to preserve life in all forms of life. He stressed separating indigenous knowledge of science, the concept of life, energy, and spirituality from economic, religious, and other points of view to avoid unnecessary crashes.

Promoting Informed consent

The Chair emphasized the international norms for protecting land, resources, self-determination, free, prior, and informed consent worldwide. However, these rights are violated in granting mining, construction, and timber contracts.

The destruction of their resources, loss of their practices, culture, and languages, and killing of their leaders are outcomes of harmful commercial activities.

While referring to fundamental loadstars from Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples and the International Labor Organization Convention no.169, Mejia warned that media fashion, textile, food, and pharmaceutical industries expropriate the knowledge and practices of Indigenous people.

UN Economic and Social Council President, Collen Vixen Kelapile said that the forum’s advice is crucial to highlight the pressing issues faced by indigenous people.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin said that indigenous peoples customarily claim and manage more than 50 percent of the world’s land, yet only legally own 10 percent of it.

As a result, 40 percent of the land surface – five billion hectares – remains vulnerable to land grabbing and environmental destruction. When indigenous communities resist these actions, they often face extreme reprisals.

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