Indigenous peoples are continuously denied their basic human rights, affected by a globalised world that proves to have little respect for them. Indigenous children often find themselves therefore in extremely vulnerable situations.
The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights was set up in 2011 and is mandated, among other tasks, to pay special attention to vulnerable groups such as Indigenous peoples. On the 28th of October this year, the group presented its first thematic report to the UN General Assembly in New York, highlighting challenges with regard to States’ duties to protect against business-related human rights abuses, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and the corresponding obligations relating to access to effective remedy, especially with regard to the human rights of Indigenous peoples. While presenting the report, the expert Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga noted that “negative effects range from indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their chosen traditional way of life, with their distinct cultural identity, to discrimination in employment and in accessing goods and services”. He also noted the exclusion of Indigenous peoples from agreements and decision-making processes that directly affect their lives.
In addition, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) also published the report “The Indigenous World 2013”, to inform about the most recent issues that have impacted on Indigenous peoples worldwide.
Major sport events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics, have also a considerable impact on the lives of Indigenous peoples. The need of space to create new stadiums and related facilities often dispossesses them from their lands; in fact local authorities face pressure to make room for housing, parking and administrative offices. For example, it was reported that for the Winter Olympics in Canada (February 2010), forests, hunting and fishing grounds needed by Indigenous communities were destructed. Moreover, housing units were abolished to increase the rental fees, putting aboriginal peoples at risk of homelessness.
Currently there are many protests in Brazil, which will host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. People are protesting against the fact that only Brazil’s private sector will benefit from these events, while the public sector will pay the harsh consequences. The government provides a huge budget to construction companies, but it cuts on social services, healthcare and education spending. This lack of interest for social priorities equally impacts the living conditions of Indigenous peoples living in Brazil, as they are less and less supported.
Defence for Children International (DCI) is deeply concerned about the situation of Indigenous peoples worldwide and calls on the respective governments and companies to take appropriate measures to guarantee that the human rights of these communities are respected, and that they be involved in decision making processes which affect them (directly or indirectly).