NAM Fighting for the Rights of Indigenous People

Indigenous Peoples worldwide numbering between 300-500 million, embody and nurture 80% of the world’s cultural and biological diversity, and occupy 20% of the world’s land surface. Historically they have often been dispossessed of their lands, or in the center of conflict for access to valuable resources because of where they live, or, in yet other cases, struggling to live the way they would like. Indeed, indigenous people are often amongst the most disadvantaged people in the world.
As defined by the United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are “those which having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop, and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems”. Indigenous peoples are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world today. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples. The Non-Aligned Movement has firmly stood for the economic, political and cultural rights of the indigenous peoples and their commitment to give special attention to the efforts made at the national and multilateral levels in order to improve their living conditions through civil participation. NAM has urged the member states to completely comply with the framework of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People which affirms that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such, and recognizes that there is an urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources.
In conformity with the UN Principles, NAM also recognizes particular the right of indigenous families and communities to retain shared responsibility for the upbringing, training, education and well-being of their children, consistent with the rights of the Childs. As such, the Non-Aligned Movement emphasizes the right of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in accordance with their aspirations and needs. In a significant initiative, NAM Member States have agreed to promote the defence of the biocultural collective heritage to allow indigenous peoples to have appropriate legal instruments on intellectual property so that their traditional knowledge is protected against unauthorized or inappropriate use by third parties. Many NAM Member States have taken measures to defend and protect such rights of the indigenous people. In this context, it would be pertinent to mention the efforts of the Bolivian government.
The Bolivian constitution conceives of plurinational, communitarian State with different kinds of autonomy for departments, municipalities, and indigenous peoples. Indigenous autonomy consists of self-government as the self-determination of indigenous peoples who share territory, culture, and legal, political, social, and economic institutions. As regards the territorial organization of the State, the current Constitution recognizes the indigenous territories and the right of autonomy of those territories. The collective property rights of indigenous peoples are recognized, protected, and guaranteed, and these are recognized as inalienable, imprescribable, and unattachable. It provides that lands will be given to indigenous communities that do not have land, or that do not have enough land. In addition, the indigenous peoples are guaranteed participation in environmental management and use of the natural resources, respecting the right of consultation in keeping with their own norms and their own procedures. Also recognized is the exclusive right of indigenous peoples within the forest areas for using and managing forest resources. NAM has supported the major UN led initiatives regarding the protection of the rights of the indigenous people. NAM Member States are committed to recognizing the rights of the indigenous people and engaging in constructive engagements to support them and devise policies and mechanisms that promote their welfare.

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