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  • Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz during a press conference Jan. 27, 2017

    Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz during a press conference Jan. 27, 2017 | Photo: UN Photo

10 years after the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ecuador and Bolivia are unique in their efforts to enshrine the charter into law.

In a press conference Wednesday reviewing the 10 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNDRIP, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples highlighted the efforts Ecuador and Bolivia have made to implement the historic document.

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Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an Indigenous Igorot woman from the Philippines who has served as special rapporteur since 2014, pointed out that Ecuador and Bolivia are unique in their efforts to enshrine the principles of the declaration in their respective constitutions.

"The U.N. Declaration is a declaration that contains the collective nature of the rights of Indigenous peoples. It is meant to bring about remedies to (the) kinds of historical and current injustices that Indigenous people suffer," said Tauli-Corpuz during the press conference.

While she recognized that there is still a gap between “what is said on paper and the lives of Indigenous people on the ground,” the progress made in those two countries stands in stark contrast to the “serious retreats” with regards to the rights of Indigenous peoples in countries like the U.S.

Tauli-Corpuz pointed to U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as state efforts to criminalize Indigenous communities standing up for their land rights, as examples of the ongoing challenges Indigenous peoples face in asserting the rights recognized in the 2007 declaration.

"States should not fear implementing the rights of indigenous peoples," she said, because implementation of UNDRIP will help the national development of member states "and the world as a whole" given the global threat of climate change.

Tauli-Corpuz, the former chairperson of the U.N. permanent forum on the rights of Indigenous peoples, stressed that the 10 year anniversary of the declaration is an opportunity to strengthen global movements for Indigenous sovereignty.

"My message is for indigenous peoples to continue to assert and claim their rights as enshrined in the U.N. Declaration, but also to call in the States to really fulfill their obligation to comply and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," Tauli-Corpuz stated.

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