Oral Statement by Nord Sud XXI to the 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 21 April 2012, Banjul, The Gambia
Item 7 – Indigenous Peoples/Communities in Africa
I am speaking again on behalf of North-South XXI, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and International-Lawyers.org.
Our organizations wish to highlights that Africa is perhaps the richest continent on this planet in terms of its broad cultural spectrum and human resources. These cultural and human heritages are at serious risk due to climate change. Indigenous peoples lives in areas that are the most vulnerable to the impacts and root causes of climate change, and have since long pointed at the risks of unsustainable development that threatens humankind and this planet.
The current financial, economic, food and climate crises, which all result from unsustainable development, demonstrate the urgent need for more universal protection of, and respect for, the values that have sustained indigenous populations for so many generations. We consider it particularly vital that the rights of indigenous peoples, including their rights to own land, territories, environment and natural resources, and to free, prior and informed consent in decision-making on climate change and development, are fully respected on the domestic, regional and international level.
The Working Group on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples/Communities in Africa took an important first step in 2009 by proposing a resolution on Human Rights and Climate Change and the Need to Study its Impacts on Africa. We hope Resolution 159 will be implemented with all due urgency and special attention for the role of indigenous peoples in addressing the adverse impacts of climate change.
Finally, we call on African States to ensure that the UN Human Rights Council adopts a resolution at its June session that establishes a mandate, a Special Rapporteur, on Human Rights and Climate Change. Such a mandate could be of great significance for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples who are most immediately and severely impacted by the damage we continue to inflict on our planet.