48th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Indigenous Rights


28th September 2021: Annual Panel on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (res. 18/8, 39/13, and 42/19).

All sources used to draft the report can be found here. Report drafted by Siran Cheng on September 28, 2021.

Composition of the HRC

Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights state that the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities for indigenous people. Indigenous peoples and disabilities have been hit particularly hard as well as indigenous women and elders

This is particular concern, including in light of the objective of the "Leave no one behind" defined by the Sustainable Development Goals. We call on all indigenous people to participate in society as a whole. Given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on Indigenous People, their participation is more critical than ever.

Ms. Megan Davis, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples state that the positive news is that we have seen reaffirmation and the foundational right upon which the enjoyment of other indigenous people. The pandemic has exacerbated underlying structural inequalities for indigenous communities. Indigenous people are more likely to die of Covid-19 and hit hardest by its socioeconomic consequences. Ms. Davis also highlights the importance of vaccines for anyone. The pandemic must not use as an opening to limit the right for indigenous peoples and the rights of self-determination

Mr. José Francisco Cali Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples states that more than a year after the pandemic, indigenous people are still facing the consequences. In many places there has been very little help. Many governments have adopted responses without protecting indigenous people and other countries have relied on the civil society to help the indigenous people. Indigenous peoples need to be included at the early stages of contingency planning. Recovery and post-pandemic decision-making must involve indigenous representatives. The implementation of effective measures to ensure culturally appropriate access to health facilities and to remove barriers to accessing health care are also indispensable to the overall effort to respond to the pandemic.

Ms. Anne Nuorgam, Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues state that the Covid-19 exposed and exacerbated the pre-existing inequalities. During the pandemic, indigenous people in more than 90 countries suffered from inequalities and discrimination including limited or no access to information, food, housing and more. The digital divide affected the futures of indigenous s children who has lost more than a year of education due to cancelled classes and lack of online connectivity. Indigenous peoples have often been neglected in the emergency response measures.

Guatemala, on behalf of Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, stated that we must be aware of the needs of indigenous people and to protect their right to self-determination. There must be greater awareness around this.

Sweden, on behalf Nordic-Baltic, states delivering their statement stating that indigenous people, indigenous women and girls, LGHTIQ face deep discrimination. Violence and harassment against human right defenders have escalated. Perpetrators of violence and abuses must be held accountable.

Bolivia, state that the report showed that indigenous peoples have suffered disproportionate impacts with the rise of discrimination and racism. The exacerbation of these various discrimination and inequalities lead to fear and uncertainty, not only among individuals but among countries. Mother earth has been neglected. We have not understood that we are all interconnected, and we need to work together. Bolivia has addressed political and social crisis in 2019 which aggregated the indigenous community. It has been difficult pathway with uncertainty and suffering, but we are now addressing the situation with the knowledge left by our ancestors.

The EU welcomes this discussion, The pandemic has disproportionately affected indigenous people. The EU is worried for the use of the pandemic to curtail indigenous people's rights to participation and allowing mega-project in their land and territory. Access to land and natural resources is essential for indigenous people. Reports prove there is direct link overcoming the pandemic. Indigenous people's participation needs to be protected.

Brazil ensures the due participation of indigenous peoples in health policy decisions. National plan of sanitary barriers for isolated. Indigenous health workers play an important role in preventing Covid-19. Indigenous peoples comprise of over 30% of the workforce in the indigenous health districts. Brazil reaffirms its commitment to indigenous people's human rights.

Ukraine has always lived up to the high standards of the commitment. Unfortunately, Russia still occupies territorial land of the Tartar people in Ukraine. The outbreak of the pandemic was in Crimea's, which has put significant threat the lives of over 100 Crimean's Tatars. These arrests should serve as a. The international community should provide an adequate response.

Venezuela welcomes the statements of the panelists. We are concerned by the disproportionate impact of the pandemic for indigenous peoples in the world and indigenous peoples and communities in Venezuela. Within the second phase of mass vaccination against Covid-19, indigenous people have been vaccinated.

Ecuador agrees that the impact on indigenous peoples has been disproportional, particular in terms of health. The participation by representatives of indigenous peoples in planning and adopting Covid-19 encourages participation by the indigenous peoples in institutions. Ecuador country has created activities for the protection of the indigenous peoples. Ecuador will continue its efforts to guarantee compliance with cultural and linguistic.

Spain state that the reports shown that indigenous people right has been exacerbated during the pandemic. Spain reaffirms its commitment to implementation. The Spanish cooperation had a strategic framework and plan that coordinates action to support recognition and effective rights for indigenous peoples. Spain has supported development program for indigenous peoples. Pandemic recovery will be effective if it incorporates adequately the additional knowledge and practices. Spain recognizes the work of the council.

Senegal the pandemic is first and foremost a human crisis with grave consequences. It worsens the situation for indigenous peoples. indigenous peoples have traditional institutions law in the field of governance to protect biodiversity including food provision to ensure recovery. Recognition and protection are essential for disabled indigenous peoples. Cultural diversity is essential.

France was not present

China welcomes this panel discussion. The inequality and human rights faced by indigenous peoples have been further compounded during the pandemic- In many countries, indigenous peoples are living at the bottom of society as most marginalized community. During the pandemic, in US, Canada and Australia, indigenous peoples have been limited right to health, education and social security. Effective access should be taken to ensure their human rights.

Indonesia state that pandemic has exacerbated disparities in public health systems that often disproportion impact indigenous peoples. Indonesia is home to around 70 million people and will continue to support the group including during the pandemic. The group shave shown resilience in adapting to the pandemic by adoption self-isolation. Vaccines must find itself to all communities, no one is safe until all are safe.

Armenia was not present

Azerbaijan was not present

Cambodia was not present

Guatemala has been seeking to assist vulnerable population implanting programs for social protection and support grants and the national plan. Institutions addressing the needs for people in terms of security, health and education. There must be universal equitable response availability for all to vaccines including indigenous peoples.


All sources used to draft the reports on the 24th meeting can be found here Reports drafted by Amine Meharzi on September 28th, 2021.

Composition of the HRC

Madam Vice-President Monique T.G. Van Daalen opened the meeting on the rights of the indigenous peoples on the 28th of September by 17:00

Mister Mr. José Francisco Cali Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples: The Special Rapporteur started by thanking the medical people who were working during the COVID-19 pandemic. He regretted that indigenous people were discriminated against in the COVID-19 vaccination. Since 2020, huge violations on the rights of indigenous people occurred all over the world. States were implementing culturally inadequate measures.

The measures taking by the states were negatively affecting indigenous people. They prioritized measures that helped recovering from the economic crisis and to extend business expansion in territories reserved for indigenous people. These people dealt with illegal deforestation, land-grabbing, incursion and violence during the pandemic. Even though governmental expansion to indigenous territories reduced, private industrial projects and amnesties for illegal lodging had escalated. If the rights of the indigenous was not recognized, violent incursion, killing, extraction, food insecurity, deforestation and eviction would continue. The Special Rapporteur noted that the enforcement of COVID-19 measures was used to strengthen the presence of the dictatorial states in indigenous territories. Indigenous people faced high rates of COVID-19 infection, but most countries still were reluctant to facilitate vaccination for this population. The Special Rapporteur stressed the fact that this form of segregation would only hinder global recovery plans.

Nonetheless the indigenous people had created proper initiatives to recover from COVID-19. They were reconnecting with their traditional land and revitalizing cultural practices in their fight against COVID-19. The Special Rapporteur invited states to support these initiatives so indigenous people could restore traditional livelihood. Such initiatives had positive outcomes: Indigenous people would become autonomous in their fight against COVID-19 and self-sufficient. The Special Rapporteur noted that some indigenous communities were less affected by the COVID-19 as they benefited from scientifical knowledge to combat the virus. Worldwide the different communities had been implementing unique and adapted measures to overcome COVID-19 since their respective governments did not share information or expertise. Indigenous people were formulating education campaigns in indigenous languages on COVID-19 to limit the spread of misinformation. They collected their own data on COVID-19 in order to move more efficiently and fight the different variants.

The Special Rapporteur reminded the member states of their responsibility to fight racism in healthcare facilities and protect indigenous territories. The indigenous needed their territories to recover from the pandemic, fight food penury, become self-sufficient and face future pandemics. He recommended the states to engage in greater inclusion in the recovery process to address the rights and needs. Implementing inclusive indigenous initiatives was also very important to recover from COVID-19. If states neglected and would not recognize indigenous people, inclusive recovery plans could not be implemented. Most importantly was that the populations had the right to enjoy the highest physical and mental care without discrimination.

Statements by States and International Organizations

Mexico on behalf of a Group Latin American Countries (Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru) agreed with the Special Rapporteur on the negative humanitarian impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on indigenous people. It stated that these people must be included into participatory and cultural appropriate recovery strategies. The non-discriminatory access to vaccines, health-facilities and education on COVID-19 were important for Mexico. The country recognized that a lot had to be done to eliminate technological and digital barriers on indigenous people.

European Union (EU) was concerned about how indigenous people were excluded from COVID-19 recovery measures. The EU stated that the indigenous people as well as their defenders were in danger since they were threatened, criminalized or killed. EU called for the end of marginalization of indigenous people and the respect of their human rights. They should as well be included in the COVID-19 recovery efforts and strengthened through more autonomy and participation in the HCR. Finally, EU asked how the HCR could protect and empower the indigenous peoples.

Denmark on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries (Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Greenland) called for the protection of the indigenous territories so that they could stay self-sufficient and implement their COVID-19 recovery plans. The group expressed concern about the government's attempts to control indigenous territories and the attacks by illegal miners on the Yanomi and Munduruku. Finally, they asked the Special Rapporteur about the most pressing challenges for the indigenous peoples during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada demanded the international community to facilitate the participation of indigenous peoples in the COVID-19 recovery plans since they were disproportionately affected by the virus. Canada stated that it had passed a national legislation aimed at implementing the recommendations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada also planned to work closely with the indigenous peoples in the implementation of a COVID-19 response. The country asked the Special Rapporteur how the UN could make indigenous people participate in its bodies.

Armenia recognized the importance of including indigenous people in decision-making and the compliance with the UNDRIP. Armenia was concerned about the education of the indigenous girls and women. The country pointed out the importance of fighting misinformation on COVID-19 and protecting health infrastructures. At the end, Armenia stated the humanitarian issues that indigenous peoples face in the environmental, cultural, political and economic spheres.

Indonesia stated that it did not "recognize the concept of Indigenous peoples" in the UNDRIP but still supported the declaration. Indonesia informed that its indigenous people faced problems and that the government tried its best to help those in need. It tried to distribute vaccines to the people living in isolated areas. The country noted that 73,8 million Indonesian had received the first dose of the vaccine, including some of the indigenous people, and the government planned to reach 70% population by the end of the year. Indonesia was concerned about the inequitable distribution of vaccines, condemned vaccine nationalism and asked the international community to be cooperative and show solidarity. Finally, Indonesia asked the Special Rapporteur to state the good practices to deliver COVID-19 vaccines in isolated indigenous people.

Venezuela thanked the Special Rapporteur for having complimented Venezuelan efforts such as the attempts to establish new schools for indigenous peoples and to adapt the curricula to the locals. Venezuela also included indigenous peoples in the implementation of COVID-19 measures though the Plan for the Prevention, Containment of Infection and Control of the COVID-19 Pandemic for the Indigenous Peoples and Communities of Venezuela.

Russia believed that indigenous peoples should be included in the combat against the pandemic. The country agreed to empower the indigenous peoples through internet access. Russia condemned misinformation disseminators and called for international cooperation to fight the issue. The commercialization and vaccine nationalism were a big threat to humanity in Russia's eyes.

Peru agreed with the Special Rapporteur that vaccination strategies should be culturally appropriate and communicated in indigenous languages. Therefore, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture had taken steps to raise awareness about the vaccine and disseminate information in indigenous languages. In addition, intercultural managers were appointed in sixteen departments to promote intercultural coordination and to combat the pandemic.

Malaysia stated that the country assisted indigenous people financially and with food during the pandemic, even though the country was highly affected by the pandemic. In addition, 132'000 indigenous people had been vaccinated being 91,7% of the Malaysian indigenous people's population. The Malaysian government distributed worksheets to indigenous children in isolated areas to avoid depriving them of education during the pandemic. Malaysia declared its willingness to work with other states to share its experiences and learn. Finally, Malaysia affirmed that it will continue to align its legislation with the UNDRIP.

Nepal provided information on how its government involved indigenous peoples in decision-making, as a significant part of its population was indigenous. The country pointed out the importance of respecting the dignity of indigenous' peoples lives and sharing knowledge, experiences and social practices with them. Nepal explained its efforts to empower and respect its indigenous peoples by mentioning the establishment of the Indigenous Nationalities Commission as well as the Fifteenth Plan of Nepal and its participation in the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples'.

Brazil informed that its Ministry of Health had created a branch for the indigenous people, the so-called Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (SESAI). This body included 20'000 workers among them were 30% of indigenous people showing how inclusive the mechanism was and spread information on the COVID-19. The government also vaccinated 81% of the indigenous people. Finally, Brazil asked how to facilitate the transmission of indigenous languages to future generations.

China stated its concerns about the indigenous peoples in Canada, Australia and United States. China informed that these countries had been committing genocide, historical crimes and discriminating certain populations. According to China, these three countries did not respect the rights of indigenous peoples. China recommended the HCR and the OHCHR to pay attention to the continuous violations of these countries and called on the three countries to acknowledge their crimes and repeal the discriminatory laws.

Cuba stated how colons have killed 120'000 indigenous people in Cuba. The country informed that indigenous people still faced serious violations of their rights. During the pandemic theses violations intensified and took the form of marginalization, violence, criminalization, killings, expropriation of natural ressources, displacement or ethnic cleansing. The international community was called to recognize the self-determination and equality of the indigenous peoples worldwide.

Panama stated how the pandemic had disproportionately affected indigenous peoples in different sectors such as education, employment, sanitation or health. Panama shared that indigenous people had been affected by systemic racism in economic, social and cultural sectors and faced eviction, food insecurity or illegal deforestation. Finally, Panama stated that indigenous peoples had to be included in the COVID-19 recovery process.

The Marshall islands informed that various nuclear tests over time had negatively affected the indigenous population and caused health problems, forced displacement and cultural disconnection. Therefore, the Marshall Islands had established an agenda for a healthy environment, adequate healthcare and socially sustainable plans to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paraguay pointed out the importance of including indigenous people in recovery plans and in vaccination campaigns. Governments should take efforts and engage in a cultural appropriate approach and fight vaccine misinformation. Paraguay informed that the country engaged in the exchange of expertise with the indigenous people so that the civil servants could clarify and identify the doubts of the populations on the vaccination. Paraguay urged the international community to have equitable access to vaccines, to exchange the good practices and respond to the demands of the indigenous people

Cameroon stated that the protection of indigenous people's rights was rooted in its constitution. The country mentioned its institutions such as the Intersectoral Committee to Follow up Programmes and Projects involving Indigenous Peoples (CISPAV), the National Community Driven Development Programme (PNDP) and the numerous workshops that were created to empower the indigenous population and raise awareness on various issues.

Cambodia stressed the importance of equitable and compressive measures towards indigenous peoples. It had to come in form of equitable education, vaccine accessibility and maintenance of indigenous religious beliefs. The communities had to be identified and recognized by the respective nation. Cambodia informed that the country had vaccinated 82% of the indigenous people.

Ukraine mentioned the fate of the Ukrainian Tatars territories occupied by Russia. The country stated that this community suffered repressions, arbitrary imprisonment, inhumane treatment and violations of the UNDRIP. In addition, the representative body of Ukrainian Tatars remained banned in Russia despite five UN resolutions. Finally, Ukraine mentioned the adoption of the Landmark law on the indigenous people.

Guatemala stated that the violations of UNDRIP had exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic. Guatemala had advocated for the implementation of inclusive initiatives for the recovery of COVID-19 and an intercultural perspective on vaccinating people. The government of Guatemala had also produced national safe-conducts for midwives to facilitate the displacement within the national territory. Finally, Guatemala stated that it recognized the UNDRIP as the only instrument to guide states and guarantee the rights of the indigenous people.

Response of the Special Rapporteur to the questions

What member states could do to empower and protect indigenous people:

  • Fulfil their obligation to indigenous people and respect the UNDRIP and other relevant human rights standards.

  • Obtain consent of the people before implementing and planning responses and recovery measures on COVID-19.

  • Involve indigenous leaders and organizations in the decision-making process

  • Design and implement vaccine programs that combat vaccination misinformation

  • Address historical and cultural mistrust

  • Disseminate information in indigenous languages

  • Create recovery plans that respect indigenous jurisdiction, autonomy and the self-determination.

  • Respect the self-identification of the indigenous people

The multiple intersecting issues facing the indigenous people:

  • Discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, age and disability

  • The pandemic had created more problems and exacerbated the discrimination.

The good practices to vaccinate the people in remote areas:

  • Vaccination plans are adopted in absence of the indigenous communities' consent. According to the Special Rapporteur, the countries had to ensure that decision have been taken with the consent of these people.

  • Countries had to sensibilize and highlight about the indigenous people's efforts made. The Special Rapporteur stated that the Cherokee managed to achieve considerable success and combatted vaccine suspicion among their people. Traditional leaders had been involved in these campaigns and made the initiative a success. By April 2021, an indigenous tribe in North America managed to vaccinate 90% of its community with the first dose and 30% with the second dose. The Yagi tribe even managed to fully vaccinate 80% of its population.

Countries using their right of reply

Brazil informed that it took a series of measures to combat and prevent illicit annexation of the indigenous territories. An investigation on the transgressors engaging in these activities was done. Brazil stated that the country would do everything to protect the rights of the indigenous people and hold those who violate the UNDRIP accountable for their crimes.

The Interactive Dialogue was closed by 18:05 on 28th of September 2021 by the Vice-President.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace