Report on the impact of COVID-19 on the rights of indigenous Peoples

The report A/75/185 is available and will be presented on 12th October to the General Assembly.

Pursuant to resolution 42/20 of the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples dedicated his annual report to the General Assembly the impact of the COVID-19 on the rights of indigenous peoples. The report reviews existing initiatives undertaken by States, indigenous peoples and others to ensure that the rights and specific needs of indigenous peoples are considered and addressed in the fight against the pandemic. It also identifies protection gaps which require Member States and their partners’ attention.

The Special Rapporteur is concerned that COVID-19 has both highlighted and exacerbated current and ongoing human rights situations faced by many indigenous peoples. This report brings  critical concerns to the attention of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council for their consideration and action. Indigenous peoples are over-represented among the poor and suffer higher rates of malnutrition, combined with impacts of environmental contamination and in many cases, lack of access to adequate health care services as a consequence, many have reduced immune systems, respiratory conditions and other health conditions, rendering then particularly vulnerable to the spread of disease.

Curfews, lockdowns, quarantine and other imposed isolation measures imposed as a response to the pandemic may cause additional hardships for access to basic economic, cultural and social rights. Increased State security measures imposed during emergency situations as this may also directly impact indigenous communities.

Exceptional times should not exacerbate or justify impunity for violations of indigenous peoples’ rights. Human cultural diversity is a source of innovation for surviving crises such as pandemics; national and international responses to COVID-19 can benefit from indigenous traditional knowledge and practices.

The report presents examples of good practices, of indigenous participation and consultation in implementing solutions and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the vision and approaches of indigenous peoples.

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