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Statement by Chinese Delegate Mr. Zhao Xing at the Third Committee of the 57th session of the General Assemble on Issues of Indigenous People (10/21/02)
2002/10/21
Mr. Chairman,

In May this year, the first session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was successfully convened here in New York, at which Forum experts, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations got together with representatives of indigenous people and reviewed the activities of the UN system on the rights of indigenous people in all their aspects, and put forward many suggestions for the plan of the future work of the Forum.  The Forum is an important fruit produced by the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People and signifies that the indigenous people and the governments have started to establish true partnership within the framework of the United Nations.  The Chinese Government will do its utmost to support and actively participate in the Forum's activities and make its own efforts for promoting the human rights for the indigenous people.

Drafting the "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People" is another important task of the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People.  Thanks to concerted efforts of all parties, the Working Group on the draft declaration has made certain headways in its work.  But it is yet to reach consensus on any of the articles in the draft declaration.  The Chinese Delegation believes that the key to a breakthrough in drafting the declaration lies in whether an appropriate point of balance can be found between supporting the legitimate demands of the indigenous people and safeguarding the overall interest of a country where the indigenous people live. The International Decade of the World's Indigenous People will end in 2004.  It is our hope that the parties can show political wisdom and flexibility so as to fulfill the commitment of promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous people with concrete action.

Prior to the establishment of the Forum, the Working Group on Indigenous Populations under the Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights used to be the main venue of UN discussions on indigenous people issues.   Over the years, the Working Group has done huge amount of work for promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous people.  Indeed the idea of drafting the Declaration and establishing the Forum was originated from the Working Group.  As a result of its outstanding work, its former Chairperson Ms. Daez and its current Chairman Mr. Martinez have won profound trust and respect among indigenous people.  Now, the members of the Working Group, the members of the Sub-commission and the NGOs of indigenous people all support the continuation of the Working Group's work.  The Chinese Delegation believes that the universal support from all parties concerned is the best argument for the Working Group to continue to exist.  The Working Group can play a unique role as a think-tank in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous people.

ECOSOC Resolutions 2000/22 and 2001/316 request that evaluations be made on the performances of the current mechanisms in the UN system involving indigenous people activities, including the Working Group on Indigenous Populations under the Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  The purpose of the evaluation is to strengthen the coordination among all these mechanisms, to achieve clear-cut divisions of labor, definite responsibilities on mandates, enhanced efficiencies and savings on resources.  The Chinese Delegation believes that the Special Rapporteur can focus on collecting latest information and problems concerning indigenous people throughout the world, the Working Group can emphasize thematic research on promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous people, and the main function of the Forum can be to strengthen through dialogue the mutual trust and mutual understanding between the governments and indigenous people.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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