The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) praised Colombia’s decision to support the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People at a press conference in Geneva Thursday.
UN Spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said that the UNHCR views Colombia’s recognition of the Declaration as a sign that the country is serious about addressing the impact of forced displacement on Colombia’s indigenous population.
The UNHCR has expressed increasing concern about indigenous human rights abuses and forced displacement caused by illegal armed groups in Colombia.
UNHCR explained that due to their geographical location, the Colombian indigenous populations are disproportionately affected by forced displacement. There are about 1 million indigenous people in Colombia, comprising 2.5%
of the national population. They tend to live in remote and rural areas that are more likely be impacted by armed conflict.
While not legally binding, the UNHCR views support for the declaration as affirmation of a “State’s
commitment to abide to its spirit and respect its principles”.
The declaration sets out basic indigenous human, cultural and economic rights. It includes provisions “to
help protect and prevent the forced displacement of indigenous groups
duringto armed conflict.”
In January Colombia’s Constitutional Court ordered that state bodies develop policies to ensure the protection of indigenous people by June 2009.