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UN Condemns Land Grabs in Native Territories
Environmental activists perform on the eve of Earth Day in Makassar, Indonesia's South Sulawesi province, in this April 21, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad/Files) It is happening not only in the developing parts of the world but also in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which champion the causes of human rights and democracy, the report says.
Despite all the "positive developments" in international human rights setting in recent years, the study's findings suggest that indigenous peoples remain vulnerable to state-sponsored violence and brutality, which is often aimed at confiscating their lands.
"Governments and the United Nations need to be serious about this," said Victoria Tauli-Corpus, chairperson of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, an advisory body that works with the 54-member Economic and Social Council, after launching the report.
The 222 page-report, entitled "State of the World's Indigenous Peoples", points out that an overwhelming majority of the indigenous population is condemned to live in extreme poverty. Its authors noted that while indigenous peoples are around five percent of the world's population, they comprise 15 percent of people living in extreme poverty.
The first-ever comprehensive report on indigenous peoples' rights comes as the U.N. is reviewing progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), globally agreed targets to reduce, poverty, disease and indienvironmental destruction, among other issues, by the year 2015.
Recent negotiations on climate change have suggested that deforestation in indigenous lands could be tackled by means of carbon trading. Many indigenous peoples see that as a tool of corruption and a threat to their cultural survival.
"Carbon trading and carbon offsets are a crime against humanity and Creation," said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. "The sky is sacred."
"This carbon market insanity privatizes the air and sells it to climate criminals like Shell so they can continue to pollute and destroy the climate and our future, rather than reducing their emissions at source," he added in a statement.
Considering the fact that much of the world's forests are located in indigenous peoples' lands, Goldtooth fears that carbon trading would pave the way for more "land grabs, killings, evictions and forced displacement" of native communities.
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