Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on 9 August to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples:
Even before the COVID‑19 pandemic, indigenous peoples in many countries were fighting on a daily basis to preserve their way of life. The spread of the virus has further worsened the situation of indigenous communities on a massive scale. These groups are at particular risk due to expropriation and displacement, poverty and a lack of access to education, as well as inadequate healthcare and sanitation. I call on the governments concerned to pay particular attention to the precarious situation of indigenous peoples when tackling the pandemic.
We in Germany can also play our part. In its coalition agreement, the German Government undertook to ratify the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention. I am doing my utmost to ensure that we do this before the end of the current legislative term, thus sending the clear message that we are committed to supporting indigenous peoples.
There are some 370 million people around the world who belong to indigenous communities. In 1994, the United Nations proclaimed the first International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in order to highlight their difficult situation. Indigenous groups are disadvantaged in many countries because the areas where they live have been reduced and they are discriminated against and marginalised in many different ways. Poverty among indigenous groups is around three times as high as among other communities. The destruction of the environment has also played a key role: A large proportion of the world’s biodiversity is to be found in the areas inhabited by indigenous peoples.
The Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention was drafted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The objective of the convention, known as ILO 169, is to protect the rights of indigenous peoples under international law. To date, 23 countries have ratified the convention. In the coalition agreement of 2018, the coalition partners stated that Germany would seek to ratify the convention.