Saturday, November 20, 2010

Indigenous Peoples and the European Union

Supporting the rights of Indigenous peoples is an integral part of the European Union's human rights policy. The legal basis of the European Union's approach to working with and supporting indigenous peoples (IPs) is governed by the Commission Working Document on support for indigenous peoples which was adopted in 1998, followed by the Council Resolution which provides the main guidelines for the policy. In November 2002, the Conclusions on Indigenous Peoples recalled the commitment to the 1998 Resolution and invited the Community and Member States to continue its implementation. The basic principles of cooperation with indigenous peoples, as spelled out in the 1998 Council Resolution are:
  • the importance of self-development, which implies the recognition and respect of indigenous people's own social, economic and cultural development and of their own cultural identities, including their right to object to projects in their traditional areas;
  • the consequent need to ensure the effective participation of indigenous peoples at all stages of the project cycle and to permit their free prior and informed consent;
  • the recognition of the key role played by indigenous peoples notably in the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources; and
  • acknowledgement that cooperation with indigenous peoples is considered essential for the objectives of poverty elimination and sustainable development of natural resources, the observance of human rights and the development of democracy.
The principles of the European Union's engagement towards indigenous peoples are applied in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of 2007, which advances the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. Indigenous issues are consistently mainstreamed in European Commission's development cooperation strategies. In addition, the Commission gives direct support to civil society organisations working on indigenous issues, through various thematic instruments, in particular through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

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Source: EU Policy on Indigenous Peoples

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