General Market

Report – 2016 discharge: European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) – A8-0107/2018 – Committee on Budgetary Control

on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2016(2017/2166(DEC))The European Parliament,–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Fisheries Co…

General Market

Motion for a resolution on the European Parliament’s priorities for the Commission Work Programme 2018 – B8-2017-0435

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission, in particular Annex IV thereto,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making of 13 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2017 of 13 December 2016,

–  having regard to the Conference of Committee Chairs’ Summary Report, which provides complementary input to this resolution from the point of view of parliamentary committees and which the Commission should take duly into account when drafting and adopting its Work Programme for 2018,

–  having regard to Rule 37(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the role of the Commission is to promote the general interest of the Union, to take appropriate initiatives to that end, to be committed to applying the rule of law, which is based on the core European values and is fundamental to Europeans living together in peace, to exercise coordinating, executive and management functions, and to initiate legislation;

B.  whereas the Commission has a duty to uphold the Treaties and enforce EU laws; noting with strong regret that both the implementation of EU policies and the enforcement of EU laws and rules are weak, as has become visible in areas such as environmental standards, fundamental rights and the rule of law, free movement of persons, and the Schengen area; whereas the Commission should make implementation and enforcement a top priority in 2017-2018;



1.  Calls once again on the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal on EU administrative law which will guarantee an open, efficient and independent European administration, and to take due account of Parliament’s proposal for an EU regulation in this regard;

2.  Calls on the Commission to take into account concerns over access to and ownership of data in its work on Building the European Data Economy and related liability issues for intermediary service providers and other online platforms in order to ensure legal certainty, increase consumer trust and ensure full compliance with citizens’ rights to privacy and full protection of personal data in the digital environment;


3.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the efficient and coordinated implementation of the European Agenda on Security for the 2015-2020 period and its priorities in the fields of counter-terrorism and cross-border organised crime and cybercrime, focusing on effective security outcomes; reiterates its call for an in-depth evaluation focused on the operational effectiveness of relevant existing EU instruments and on the remaining gaps in this field, prior to the presentation of new legislative proposals as part of the European Agenda on Security; deplores, in this regard, the continued and systematic absence of impact assessments on several proposals presented as part of that agenda;

4.  Calls on the Commission to seek to adopt legal acts amending or replacing the Union acts in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters that were adopted before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in particular Council Decision 2005/671/JHA and Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA on the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities, including the exchange of information on terrorist offences, by proposing a horizontal legislative instrument to improve the exchange of law enforcement information and increase operational cooperation between Member States and with EU agencies, with a view to ensuring mandatory exchanges of information for the purpose of combating serious transnational crime;

5.  Calls on the Commission to submit without undue delay an amendment to the new Europol founding regulation, in order to develop a genuine European investigation capacity, equip the agency with a legal capacity to request the initiation of a criminal investigation, and foster the sharing and pooling of information at EU level;

6.  Calls on the Commission to mobilise expertise and technical and financial resources in order to ensure EU-level coordination and exchanges of best practices in the fight against violent extremism and terrorist propaganda, radical networks and recruitment by terrorist organisations through offline and online means, with a particular focus on prevention, integration and reintegration strategies with a clear gender perspective;

7.  Calls on the Commission to fulfil its duty as guardian of the Treaties and assess the compliance with EU primary and secondary law of measures recently adopted by Member States in the field of counter-terrorism and surveillance, bearing in mind that any limitations to fundamental rights should be duly reasoned, provided for by law, respect the essence of the rights and freedoms recognised by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and be subject to the principle of proportionality, in accordance with Article 52(1) of the Charter;

Fundamental rights

8.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to make every effort to unblock the proposal for a horizontal anti-discrimination directive; invites it to upgrade its List of Actions to advance LGBTI Equality to a full European response to the fundamental rights problems faced by LGBTI people, in the shape of an EU roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;

9.  Calls on the Commission to speed up negotiations on the EU’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding instrument on preventing and combating violence against women at international level; reiterates it call on the Commission to include a definition of gender-based violence in line with the provisions of the Victims’ Rights Directive and to present as soon as possible a legislative act for the prevention and combating of gender-based violence;

10.  Calls on the Commission to implement the actions outlined in its strategic engagement without delay and incorporate a systematic and visible gender equality perspective into all EU activities and policies;

11.  Encourages the Commission to continue to progress towards EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), taking into account the Court of Justice opinion on the matter and addressing the remaining legal challenges; urges the Commission to urgently seek solutions to the two most problematic issues relating to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), namely mutual trust and judicial review;

12.  Calls on the Commission to ensure a timely and compliant entry into force of the data protection package, and to support a successful completion of the legislative process for the adoption of the ePrivacy Regulation; urges furthermore that the confidentiality of electronic communication be protected by promoting the use of end-to-end encryption and prohibiting by EU law any obligation imposed by Member States on undertakings providing public communications networks or publicly available electronic communications services that would result in the weakening of the security of their networks and services;


13.  Calls for EU legal migration instruments to be replaced by a single horizontal regulation to create a true EU legal migration policy;

14.  Calls for a standalone European humanitarian visa regulation;

15.  Calls for a revision of the Facilitation Directive to clarify the distinction between illegal smuggling activities and the actions of ordinary citizens helping people in need;

16.  Calls for implementation and monitoring reports on the functioning of the European Border and Coast Guard;


17.  Invites the Commission to put forward a proposal for a democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights pact in the form of an interinstitutional agreement, along the lines of the recommendation made by Parliament in its legislative own-initiative report;

18.  Reiterates its call for the setting-up of an endowment for democracy grant-giving organisations that would support local actors promoting democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights within the Union;

19.  Points to growing efforts by third states and non-state actors to undermine through hybrid means, including disinformation, the legitimacy of democratic institutions inside the EU, and urges the Commission to strengthen its resilience against hybrid threats and its capacity to advance strategic communication inside and outside the EU, and to improve its ability to adequately counter false news and disinformation in a systematic manner;


MFF revision, budget and employment

20.  Recalls that, under Article 25 of the MFF Regulation, the Commission must normally present a proposal for a new multiannual financial framework before 1 January 2018; expects that this proposal will address such priorities as a comprehensive reform of the own resources system on both the revenue and the expenditure side, a greater emphasis on the unity of the budget to ensure full parliamentary control over all expenditure, more budgetary flexibility, including a new special instrument to be counted over and above the MFF ceilings, adjustments to the duration of the MFF to align it with the political cycles of both Parliament and the Commission and the modalities of the decision-making process that would ensure the availability of the necessary financial resources;

21.  Underlines the need for an in-depth reform of the own resources system, based on principles of simplicity, fairness, transparency and accountability; strongly welcomes in this regard the final report of the High Level Group on Own Resources; calls on the Commission to present, by the end of 2017, an ambitious legislative package on own resources post-2020, which would aim at ensuring that the EU budget focuses on areas bringing the highest European added value, phasing out all forms of rebates and ending the ‘juste retour’ approach; expects that any new own resources should lead to a reduction in Member States’ GNI contributions;

22.  Calls on the Commission to maintain the allocation of cohesion policy funds and European Structural and Investment Funds at the level decided in the MFF in 2013; considers, on this basis, that technical adjustment should avoid any decrease in the budget for cohesion policy, given its importance in creating growth and jobs, ensuring cohesion within the EU, and, in particular, supporting SMEs and innovation and research, as well as a low-carbon economy and urban policies;

23.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate the EU Urban Agenda and thus ensure the coherent and integrated policy solutions that cities need at European level, and to guarantee the link with the Better Regulation agenda; calls on the Commission to strengthen its internal coordination of issues relevant to urban areas and, for example, expand the instrument of impact assessments so as to include the urban dimension more systematically;

24.  Considers that the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) is essential in tackling youth unemployment, which remains unacceptably high in the EU; calls on the Commission to secure adequate funding to fight youth unemployment and continuing the YEI up to the end of the current MFF, while at the same time improving its functioning and implementation and taking into account the latest findings of the European Court of Auditors special report on youth employment and the use of the YEI (No 5/2017); calls, furthermore, on the Commission to come forward with proposals to facilitate the employment of people aged over 50;

25.  Urges the Commission to put in place all suitable mechanisms for greater mobility among young people, apprenticeships included, as a way to address skills mismatches in the labour market and improve access to employment opportunities;

26.  Calls on the Commission to take further steps in the framework of the New Skills Agenda, such as developing a pan-European skills needs forecasting tool which would make it possible to estimate future skills needs and adapt them better to the jobs available on the labour market, including the blue growth agenda; recalls that, as part of the national strategies for digital skills, developed by Member States in the framework of the New Skills Agenda, it is important to provide adequate funding for educational institutions to ensure the development of the full range of digital skills that individual and companies need in an increasingly digital economy; calls on the Commission to assess and evaluate the financing and investment needs as regards overcoming the digital skills gap;

27.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with a Green Paper on inequality and how it is hampering economic recovery; encourages it to analyse and assess this issue as a first step towards proposing political solutions, and to take immediate action to reverse this trend so as to reduce inequalities and poverty, and increase social cohesion;

28.  Calls on the Commission to revise the Equal Treatment Directive and launch the legislative procedure for a directive following the 2014 Commission Recommendation on pay transparency with a view to eliminating the persistent gender pay gap;

Horizon 2020

29.  Recognises the enormous added value of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme for Europe; calls on the Commission to act upon its mid-term evaluation and take Parliament’s resolution into consideration; urges the Commission to continue working towards simplification while minimising barriers to participation and ensuring the highest socio-economic returns – both short-term and long-term – for all parts of the programme, and to work towards an ambitious proposal for the next framework programme; stresses that building synergies with the ESI Funds is needed to bridge the innovation gap within the EU;

A more efficient and multimodal transport policy

30.  Calls on the Commission to implement Article 3 of Regulation 551/2004 establishing a single European upper flight information region (EUIR) and to develop a connectivity index on the basis of other existing indices and the exploratory work already carried out by Eurocontrol and the Airport Observatory;

31.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with guidelines on the timing and instruments to ensure the development of a European approach to rail freight noise; urges the Commission to continue supporting the development of innovative technologies focused on moving more freight from road to rail (Shift2Rail);

32.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal aimed at harmonising the different national legislations in order to enhance the establishment of the European internal market for road transport; calls on the Commission, wherever legitimate, to take the necessary measures against national laws distorting the European single market;

33.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with an integrated and harmonised legislative proposal for the roll-out of connected and automated driving, by enabling cross-border test facilities, drafting proportionate European legislation regarding liability, privacy and data protection and supporting public-private initiatives;

34.  Calls for concrete maritime measures to reduce discharges of ship-generated waste and cargo residues into the sea and to improve the availability and use of facilities in ports to receive ship waste; urges the Commission to support the development of innovative technologies with a special focus on autonomous shipping;

35.  Calls on the Commission to swiftly deliver a multimodal package to ensure an integrated approach to transport policies, which should also include provisions for passenger rights and integrated door-to-door mobility for passengers and freight; asks the Commission to step up its attention to and support for the digital transformation of the multimodal transport sector (e-Documents) and to initiate the deployment of multimodal infrastructure and services along the TEN-T networks;


36.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiative to enhance cooperation with Parliament in the field of competition; calls on the Commission to continue and strengthen that practice and to consider the application of the ordinary legislative procedure in competition policy, in particular where fundamental principles and binding guidelines are concerned;

37.  Calls on the Commission to come up very rapidly with concrete proposals in the field of retail financial services, noting that retail finance in the EU should work in the interests of citizens and provide better products and more choice on the market;

38.  Calls on the Commission to take effective measures within the framework of the European Semester to ensure that Member States implement the country-specific recommendations and structural reforms in order to modernise their economies, increase competitiveness and tackle inequalities and imbalances;

39.  Urges the Commission to speed up the work on the completion of a Capital Markets Union (CMU), in order to help unleash investment in the EU to create growth and jobs; calls on the Commission to come forward with proposals that improve the business environment in the EU in order to attract more foreign direct investment;

40.  Calls on the Commission, in accordance with Parliament’s resolution of 12 April 2016 on the EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies(1), to streamline and codify the EU’s representation in multilateral organisations and bodies with a view to increasing the transparency, integrity and accountability of the Union’s involvement in those bodies, its influence, and the promotion of the legislation it has adopted through a democratic process;

41.  Calls on the Commission to foster growth by building on a three-dimensional approach aimed at reinforcing investment and financing innovation, including through the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the CMU, conducting structural reforms to modernise economies and setting a common policy mix;


42.  Is concerned by the delays taken by some of the legislative proposals contained in the Digital Single Market Strategy; considers that the EU institutions should not lose the momentum of the strategy and devote every possible effort to delivering and adopting the relevant proposals; asks the three institutions, at the time of its mid-term review, to commit at the highest level to giving them priority treatment in the legislative process so that citizens and businesses can benefit from their results;

43.  Welcomes efforts to develop and modernise the EU’s intellectual property laws, in particular in the area of copyright, in order to render them fit for the digital age and facilitate cross-border access to creative content, thereby creating legal certainty while protecting authors’ and performers’ rights; calls on the Commission to base any legislative initiative to modernise copyright on independent evidence as to the impact on growth and jobs, particularly as regards SMEs in this sector, access to knowledge and culture, intermediary liability, the open internet, fundamental rights and potential costs and benefits for the creative and cultural sectors; considers that copyright should maintain its primary function, which is to allow creators to gain rewards for their efforts through others making use of their work, while harmonising the exceptions and limitations in the field of research, education, preservation of cultural heritage and user generated content ; stresses that the important contribution of traditional methods of promoting regional and European culture should not be hampered by modernisation of reform proposals;

44.  Reiterates its calls for proposals to develop the potential of the cultural and creative sector as a source of jobs and growth; stresses, in this connection, the importance of enforcing as well as modernising intellectual property rights (IPR), and urges the Commission to follow up on its action plan to combat IPR infringements, including a review of the IPR Enforcement Directive, which is out of step with the digital age and inadequate to combat online infringements, and also to follow up on the Green Paper on chargeback and related schemes in the context of a potential EU-wide right to retrieve money unwittingly used to purchase counterfeit goods; calls on the Commission to further strengthen the remit of the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, and welcomes its establishment of a group of experts on IPR enforcement;

45.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the preservation of the internet as an open, neutral, secured and inclusive platform for communication, production, participation and creation, and as a provider of cultural diversity and innovation; recalls that this is in the interests of all EU citizens and consumers and will contribute to the success of European companies globally; emphasises the need to ensure the rigorous application of the net neutrality principle as adopted in the ‘Connected Continent package’;

46.  Urges the Commission to come up with a notice and takedown directive in order to prevent the fragmentation of a digital single market, which would increase legal clarity by harmonising the procedures and safeguards for internet platforms and their users to take down content; stresses that the EU needs an effective due-process architecture to protect citizens from arbitrary content removals;

47.  Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to secure the swift implementation of the EU e-Government Action plan and calls on the Commission to report back, after the launch in 2017 of the Once-Only Principle large-scale pilot project for businesses and citizens (TOOP);


The single market

48.  Regrets that the Commission has not listened so far to the repeated calls for the creation of a strong single market pillar within the European Semester, with a system of regular monitoring and identification of country-specific barriers to the single market, which have tended to be introduced lately with a greater impact, frequency and scope in Member States;

49.  Reiterates, therefore, its request to the Commission to issue recommendations focused on removing single market barriers in the country-specific recommendations; calls for an in-depth evaluation of single market integration and internal competitiveness; insists that the evaluation of the state of single market integration should become an integral part of the economic governance framework;

50.  Asks the Commission to focus its work on the implementation of the Single Market Strategy and in particular the legislative proposals for a Single Digital Gateway, which should be proposed without delay, and for a Single Market Information Tool; recalls in this context that, in its resolution on the Strategy, Parliament underlined that regulatory differences between Member States regarding differing labelling or quality requirements create unnecessary obstacles to the activities of suppliers of goods and to consumer protection, and to assessing which labels are essential and which are not essential for ensuring consumer information, and regrets that the Commission has not taken any steps in the matter;

51.  Calls on the Commission, with the support of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the national regulatory authorities, to closely monitor the effects of the abolition of retail roaming surcharges from 15 June 2017, in particular the correct implementation and enforcement of the directive with regard to exception schemes, the evolution of data consumption patterns and the retail tariff plans available; urges that the impact of correct implementation of the voluntary fair use policies will have to be assessed;

52.  Urges the Commission to adopt as a matter of urgency the proposal for a revised Commission implementing regulation on deactivation standards and techniques for ensuring that deactivated firearms are rendered irreversibly inoperable; reminds the Commission that its adoption of this new proposal was one the conditions for Parliament adopting the Firearms Directive and asks the Commission, therefore, to deliver without delay in order to close security loopholes and strengthen deactivation regimes in the EU;

53.  Reminds the Commission that the adoption of the Directive on network and information security was a first step that was needed but that cannot be considered sufficient in the medium and long term; asks the Commission to make sure that Member States abide by its provisions and to prepare the ground for a revision of the directive as soon as possible in order to reach a higher level of operational and strategic cooperation between the Member States;

Consumer rights

54.  Considers that the ongoing evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive is an important step towards ensuring that the directive has achieved its objectives and that the anticipated impacts, as described in the original impact assessment accompanying the proposal for the directive, have materialised;

55.  Underlines the need to complete the REFIT Fitness check of consumer law in time so that its results can still be used within this legislative term and that it includes the results of the evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive;

56.  Is concerned by allegations that qualitative characteristics of food as well as non-food products that are sold in the single market under the same brand and same packaging and with the use of other marketing texts could differ between Member States; asks the Commission to look into this question more closely;


57.  Calls on the Commission, following the adoption of various Energy Union, energy efficiency, market design, renewable energy and other energy-related legislative proposals and communications, to focus its attention on ensuring that Member States fully implement these; considers that, in cases where legal obligations are clearly not being met, the Commission should launch infringement procedures, the aim being to build a genuine Energy Union;

58.  Urges the Commission to complete as soon as possible its already delayed review of the legislation on CO2 emissions from cars and vans and from heavy duty vehicles, and to table legislative proposals for a fleet average emissions target for 2025 in line with the commitments made in the context of the agreement between the co-legislators in 2013;

59.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the EU maintains its leadership role in the implementation and enforcement of the Paris Agreement; asks the Commission to propose Union-wide measures complementary to the EU’s commitment to a 40 % cut in domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with a view to the 2018 facilitative dialogue under the agreement; urges the Commission to prepare a mid-century decarbonisation strategy consistent with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including intermediate milestones to ensure cost-efficient delivery of the EU’s climate ambitions; calls on the Commission also to evaluate the consistency of current EU policies in relation to the objectives of the Paris Agreement, including with regard to the EU budget, the phasing-out of fossil fuel subsidies and ocean governance, especially with regard to the importance of the ocean for our climate; calls on the Commission to develop measures to support an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy in order to mitigate the systematic economic risks associated with high-carbon financial assets; expects the Commission to ensure that the work programme reflects the Sustainable Development Goals by putting sustainability at the core of economic policy and reiterates the importance of fully implementing the 7th Environmental Action Programme 2014-2020;

60.  Urges the Commission to bring forward without any delay the initiatives listed in the Circular Economy Action Plan, including in the areas of product policy and food waste, and to monitor the progress towards a circular economy in the framework of the EU semester;

61.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal on environmental inspections – fully respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality – in order to step up the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and standards;

Agriculture and fisheries policies

62.  Stresses the important role that sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors play in ensuring food security in the EU, providing jobs and improving environmental standards, and equally underlines the potential of European agriculture in contributing to climate change policies through innovation and adoption of policies which enhance the carbon sequestration potential of European agriculture;

63.  Calls on the Commission to simplify the implementation of the CAP and to cut red tape in order to increase its efficiency, alleviate the administrative burden on agricultural entrepreneurs, and make room for innovations that are indispensable for a forward-looking, competitive European agriculture sector; asks the Commission to ensure that the principle of better regulation is included in the upcoming CAP reform proposal which should provide more room and financial incentives for innovation in agriculture aimed at ensuring long-term food security in the EU, reducing agriculture’s impact on biodiversity and increasing its climate resilience;

64.  Calls on the Commission to make proposals to urgently address the continued loss of natural capital in Europe and to review existing policies, in particular the CAP, with a view to meeting the objectives of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy;

65.  Stresses the urgency and importance of taking action against the persistently growing threat of increased antimicrobial resistance, since this can have an enormous impact on citizens’ health and productivity as well as on the Member States’ health budgets; calls on the Commission, therefore, to come forward with a proposal for an EU action plan on how to implement in the Union the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance; calls on the Commission also to enhance measures already applied in the current Action Plan against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to ensure the consistent implementation thereof by all relevant parties;

66.  Reiterates that, in order to ensure the timely and proper implementation of the common fisheries policy adopted in 2013, the Commission must continue to come forward with legislative proposals for the adoption of renewed multiannual management plans for fish stocks;

67.  Highlights the importance of the strong control system laid down in the Control Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009), which modernised the EU’s approach to fisheries control in line with the measures adopted to combat illegal fishing; calls on the Commission to undertake a comprehensive follow-up and to propose, if necessary, their revision with a view to addressing shortcomings and ensuring proper implementation and enforcement;

68.  Considers that illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is a form of organised crime on the seas, with disastrous worldwide environmental and socio-economic impacts and therefore calls on the Commission to take all necessary action against non-cooperating countries and all organisations contributing to IUU fishing;


69.  Emphasises its support for an ambitious and values-based trade agenda which will strengthen the global rules-based system and contribute towards jobs and growth in Europe; welcomes, in this connection, the Commission’s efforts to conclude negotiations with Japan and to push ahead with other ongoing negotiations, such as with Mexico and Mercosur, as well as aiming to commence new ones with, for example, Australia and New Zealand and trying to unblock other negotiations, such as those with India;

70.  Calls on the Commission to reinvigorate the post-Nairobi WTO discussion, since multilateral trade negotiations must remain a priority matter for the EU even when they prove difficult; considers that it would also be worthwhile to look into new areas and issues within the WTO framework, such as digital trade, and welcomes the international initiatives taken by the Commission on investment protection;

71.  Stresses that the modernising and strengthening of the Union’s trade defence instruments is as a matter of urgency and of the utmost importance;


72.  Calls on the Commission to advance with setting up the European Defence Fund, which would encompass adequate funding for both collaborative research on defence technologies and the acquisition of joint assets by the Member States; encourages the Commission to step up the enforcement of the two directives framing the single market for defence and to come up with an initiative on development of shared industry standards for equipment and assets;

73.  Urges to Commission to pay particular attention to the rising tension in the Western Balkans and to seek ways to enhance the EU’s engagement in favour of reconciliation and reforms in all of the countries concerned;

74.  Commends the Commission for its emphasis on the Neighbourhood Policy, both eastern and southern, but underlines that the policy must acquire a more political content, notably through a combination of increased financial assistance, reinforced democracy support, market access and improved mobility; stresses that the policy needs to clearly identify areas of action in order to better address the challenges which the neighbouring countries are facing;

75.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise digitalisation as an integral part of the EU´s foreign policy instruments and to embrace it as an opportunity such as by leading in the fields of internet governance, people´s human rights online, state norms in cyberspace, cybersecurity and freedom online, access and development, digital literacy and net neutrality;

76.  Stresses that the promotion of, and respect for, human rights, international law and fundamental freedoms must be a central common denominator across EU policies; calls on the Commission not to neglect the importance of protecting human rights in the context of counter-terrorism measures; urges the Commission to actively continue pushing for human rights to be implemented effectively through all agreements, in particular the trade, political dialogue and cooperation and association agreements subscribed by the EU, in particular the so-called ‘democracy clause’ and Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement; calls on the Commission to make a clear monitoring of the human rights situation in the countries with which the EU has agreements;

77.  Calls on the Commission to continue to work to help ensure accountability for war crimes, human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including the confirmed use of chemical weapons; expresses its continued grave concern at the deliberate restrictions that are put in the way of the provision of humanitarian aid and reiterates its call on the Commission to make every possible effort to help ensure that full, unhindered, safe and sustainable country-wide humanitarian access for the UN and other humanitarian organisations is secured in countries where it is needed;

78.  Calls on the Commission to put forward an implementation plan for the revised European Consensus;

79.  Urges the Commission to show ambition in its updated EU Global Strategy and to better position the EU in a rapidly changing world to deliver the institutional and policy changes for the effective implementation of the Agenda 2030; calls on the Commission also to come forward with a proposal for an overarching Sustainable Development Strategy, encompassing all relevant internal and external policy areas, including the UN process, a detailed timeline up to 2030, a concrete implementation plan and a specific procedure ensuring Parliament’s full involvement and to provide information regarding the plan for implementation, monitoring, follow-up and incorporation of the 2030 Agenda into the EU’s internal and external policy;

80.  Emphasises its support for an ambitious External Investment Plan (EIP); believes that the implementation of the upcoming European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and the EU Trust Fund for Africa will be key in assessing the effectiveness of current efforts; calls on the Commission to give an active and effective impulse to the EU’s external policy; stresses that the EU should be a major actor that provides efficient responses to the challenges that Europe is facing, in order achieve the SDGs by 2030 and address the root causes of irregular and forced migration;

81.  Recalls the need to review the Humanitarian Aid Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 of 20 June 1996), in order to make the EU’s humanitarian assistance more efficient and compliant with international humanitarian law, especially in view of the urgent need for comprehensive action against famine and to ensure a sustainable future for the millions of people affected by conflicts or natural or man-made disasters, as well as for education in the context of protracted crises;

82.  Calls on the Commission to increase its efforts to safeguard the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls throughout the world, and to guarantee that the Global Gag Rule will not restrict EU humanitarian aid funds and the work of foreign family-planning organisations that the EU is funding;

83.  Calls on the Commission to present a legislative proposal on accompanying measures for the ‘Conflict Minerals Regulation’ (2014/0059(COD)) in line with the relevant Joint Communication (JOINT (2014) 8);

84.  Calls on the Commission, given the global nature of the garment industry and of its shortcomings in terms of improving worker’s conditions, to go beyond the presentation of a staff working document on the flagship initiative on the garment sector and to present a legislative proposal for due diligence obligations in the supply chain in the garment sector;

85.  Calls on the Commission to assist developing countries in combating fraud and tax evasion through the establishment of a comprehensive and binding framework;

86.  Calls on the Commission to take an ambitious approach in the context of the future negotiations for the Post-Cotonou Agreement with a view to a binding agreement, tailored to the new realities, with a strong political dimension and an economic development dimension, and oriented towards a framed market economy and inclusive growth;


*  *

89.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

General Market

Text adopted – EU action plan against wildlife trafficking – P8_TA-PROV(2016)0454 – Thursday, 24 November 2016 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘The EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking’ (COM(2016)0087),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2014 on wildlife crime(1) ,

–  having regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), implemented in the EU through Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein, and Commission Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 laying down detailed rules concerning the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97,

–  having regard to Council Decision (EU) 2015/451 of 6 March 2015 concerning the accession of the European Union to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)(2) ,

–  having regard to the 2003 United Nations Convention against Corruption,

–  having regard to the 2000 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime,

–  having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention),

–  having regard to the 2016 World Wildlife Crime Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 69/314 of 30 July 2015 on tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife,

–  having regard to UN Environment Assembly Resolution 2/14 on illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products,

–  having regard to the 2015-2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

–  having regard to the International Consortium on combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), comprising CITES, Interpol, UNODC, the World Bank and the World Customs Organisation,

–  having regard to the Declaration signed at the 2014 London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade,

–  having regard to the 2016 Buckingham Palace Declaration on the prevention of wildlife trafficking in the transport sector,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market(3) , and to the Commission’s 2016 implementation report thereon,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29 September 2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU)(4) ,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 605/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1185/2003 on the removal of fins of sharks on board vessels(5) and Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2009 of 5 March 2009(6) which allows the import of 20 kg of fish products for personal consumption,

–  having regard to the importance of the European Fisheries Control Agency, established by Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005, in combating illegal capture and sale of aquatic species,

–  having regard to Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law(7) ,

–  having regard to Council Directive 1999/22/EC of 29 March 1999 relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos(8) ,

–  having regard to Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds(9) ,

–  having regard to Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora(10) ,

–  having regard to the study on wildlife crime published by its Policy Department for its Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in March 2016,

–  having regard to the Natura 2000 network, which involves core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right,

–  having regard to the report of the 2014 EU Action to Fight Environmental Crime (EFFACE) research project,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 February 2016 on the fight against the financing of terrorism,

–  having regard to the report of the Secretary-General of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice of 4 March 2003 entitled ‘Illicit trafficking in protected species of wild flora and fauna and illicit access to genetic resources’,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 June 2016 on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking,

–  having regard to the 2016 rapid response assessment by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol entitled ‘The Rise of Environmental Crime’,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Fisheries and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0303/2016),

A.  whereas wildlife trafficking is an organised international crime which is estimated to be worth approximately EUR 20 billion annually and which has increased worldwide in recent years, becoming one of the biggest and most profitable forms of organised cross-border crime; whereas wildlife trafficking finances and is closely linked with other forms of serious and organised crime;

B.  whereas the loss of global biodiversity is serious, as it corresponds to the sixth wave of mass extinction of species;

C.  whereas global biodiversity and ecosystem services are under threat owing to land-use changes, unsustainable use of natural resources, pollution and climate change; whereas, in particular, many endangered species face greater challenges than before owing to rapid urbanisation, loss of habitat and the illegal wildlife trade;

D.  whereas wildlife trafficking has major negative impacts on biodiversity, existing ecosystems, the natural heritage of the countries of origin, natural resources and the conservation of species;

E.  whereas wildlife trafficking is a serious and growing threat to global security, political stability, economic development, local livelihoods and the rule of law, and therefore requires a strategic, coordinated EU approach involving all the actors concerned;

F.  whereas halting trafficking in endangered species of flora and fauna and products derived from them is essential in order to attain the UN’s sustainable development targets;

G.  whereas CITES is a major international agreement covering 35 000 animal and plant species, which has been in force since 1975 and signed by 183 parties (including all EU Member States and, since July 2015, the EU itself);

H.  whereas trade and development policies should, inter alia, serve as a means to improve respect for human rights, animal welfare and environmental protection;

I.  whereas the EU Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange (EU-TWIX) has been monitoring the illegal wildlife trade by creating a seizures database and channels of communication between officials across European countries since 2005;

J.  whereas lack of awareness and political engagement are major obstacles to combating wildlife trafficking effectively;

K.  whereas the EU Agenda on Security for 2015-2020 identifies wildlife crime as a form of organised crime that must be tackled at EU level by considering further criminal sanctions throughout the EU by means of a review of the existing legislation on environmental crime;

L.  whereas Operation COBRA III, conducted in May 2015, was the biggest ever coordinated international law enforcement operation targeting the illegal trade in endangered species and resulted in 139 arrests and more than 247 seizures, which included elephant ivory, medicinal plants, rhino horns, pangolins, rosewood, tortoises and many other plant and animal specimens;

M.  whereas the demand for illegal wildlife products in destination markets promotes corruption across the wildlife trafficking supply chain;

N.  whereas the EU is a significant destination market and transit route for illegal wildlife trade but also a source of trafficking in certain European endangered species of flora and fauna;

O.  whereas the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice resolution of April 2013, endorsed by the UN Economic and Social Council on 25 July 2013, encourages its ‘Member States to make illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora involving organised criminal groups a serious crime’, thereby placing it on the same level as human trafficking and drug trafficking;

General remarks

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, which highlights the need for coordinated actions to address the causes of wildlife trafficking, to implement and enforce existing rules effectively, and to strengthen global cooperation between source, transit and destination countries;

2.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States, the European External Action Service and the EU agencies Europol and Eurojust to recognise that wildlife crime is a serious and growing threat and to address it with the greatest political urgency; highlights the need for comprehensive and coordinated approaches across policy areas including trade, development, foreign affairs, transport and tourism, and justice and home affairs;

3.  Stresses that the identification and allocation of appropriate financial and human resources is essential for the implementation of the Action Plan; underlines the need to provide adequate financial resources in the EU budget and the national budgets in order to ensure effective implementation of this plan;

4.  Acknowledges the importance of the Action Plan, but stresses its shortcomings as regards the incorporation of aquatic species;

5.  Insists on the full and timely implementation of all elements of the Action Plan reflecting the urgent need to stop illegal and unsustainable practices and prevent further species decline; calls on the Commission to provide Parliament and the Council with yearly written implementation updates and to set up an ongoing detailed monitoring and evaluation mechanism to measure progress, including the actions taken by Member States;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to better increase the protection of the habitats of target species and stresses that increased protection should be ensured for areas designated as Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas and Natura 2000 network sites;

7.  Calls on the Commission to establish a dedicated Wildlife Trafficking Coordinator’s office, mirroring the model used to fight human trafficking, in order to ensure a joined-up effort by different Commission services and the Member States;

8.  Reminds the Commission that many aquatic species are also in danger of being extinct, which will affect the sustainability of many ecosystems;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to further develop scientific studies on technological adaptations of fishing gears in order to avoid bycatch, given the fact that a number of species, including turtles, are threatened by both bycatch and wild animal trafficking;

Preventing wildlife trafficking and addressing its root causes

10.  Calls for a targeted and coordinated series of awareness-raising campaigns by the EU, third countries, stakeholders and civil society with the aim of reducing demand related to the illegal trade in wildlife products through real and lasting individual and collective behavioural change; recognises the role civil society organisations can play in supporting the Action Plan;

11.  Calls on the EU to support initiatives promoting the development of alternative sustainable livelihoods for rural communities close to wildlife, which increase local benefits from conservation measures, minimise human-wildlife conflicts and promote wildlife as a valuable community income; believes that such initiatives, when taken in consultation with the communities concerned, will increase support for conservation and contribute to the recovery, conservation and sustainable management of wildlife populations and their habitats;

12.  Stresses that wildlife protection must be a key element in the EU’s global poverty-reduction strategies and calls for actions that enable local communities to benefit directly from engaging in wildlife protection to be included in the various cooperation agreements negotiated with third countries;

13.  Reminds the Commission that illegal trafficking in aquatic species also affects the economic development of coastal communities and the environmental suitability of our waters;

14.  Calls for the EU, as a matter of urgency, to address corruption and the shortcomings of international governance measures across the wildlife trafficking chain; calls for the EU and its Member States to engage with partner countries through the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and other fora to tackle the problem in source, transit and destination markets; calls on all Member States to fully comply with and effectively implement the provisions of UNCAC; welcomes the international commitment on counter-corruption under Article 10 of UN General Assembly Resolution 69/314 of July 2015;

15.  Recognises the need to provide assistance, guidance and training to authorities in source, transit and destination countries concerning investigation, enforcement and judicial procedures at local, regional and national level; underlines the need to coordinate these efforts in an efficient way among all agencies involved in this work; calls for the EU to support the exchange of best practices and to enable specialised equipment and expertise to be provided where necessary;

16.  Takes note of the Council conclusions on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking of 20 June 2016, recognising that wildlife crime is a serious and growing threat to biodiversity and the environment but also to global security, the rule of law, human rights and sustainable development; strongly regrets the lack of clear commitments by the Member States; stresses the decisive role of the Member States in the full and coherent implementation of the Action Plan at national level and in delivering the objectives set out therein;

17.  Urges governments of the supply countries to: (i) improve the rule of law and create effective deterrents by strengthening criminal investigation, prosecution and sentencing; (ii) enact stronger laws treating illicit wildlife trafficking as a ‘serious crime’ deserving the same level of attention and gravity as other forms of transnational organised crime; (iii) allocate more resources to combating wildlife crime, particularly to strengthen wildlife law enforcement, trade controls, monitoring, and customs detection and seizure; (iv) commit to a zero-tolerance policy on corruption;

Making implementation and enforcement more effective

18.  Calls on the Member States to put in place wildlife trafficking action plans detailing enforcement policies and penalties, and to publish and exchange the information on seizures and arrests relating to wildlife crimes, in order to ensure consistency and harmonised approaches between Member States; supports the setting up of a mechanism to provide the Commission with regular data and information updates on seizures and arrests in the Member States and promote the sharing of best practice;

19.  Insists on the importance of the full implementation and enforcement of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations;

20.  Proposes that the penalties for wildlife trafficking, especially in areas with vulnerable marine ecosystems or falling within the Natura 2000 network, should be sufficiently severe as to deter potential offenders;

21.  Urges the Member States to ensure that enforcement agencies, prosecution services and national judiciaries have the necessary financial and human resources and appropriate expertise to combat wildlife crime; strongly encourages the Commission and the Member States to increase their efforts to train and raise the awareness of all relevant agencies and institutions;

22.  Welcomes the efforts of the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE), the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE) and the network of police officers focusing on tackling environmental crime (EnviCrimeNet);

23.  Notes the inclusion of illegal wildlife trade in the EU Agenda for Security 2015-2020, which recognises that the illegal trade in wildlife threatens biodiversity in source regions, sustainable development and regional stability;

24.  Suggests that Member States invest the proceeds from fines imposed for trafficking in the protection and conservation of wild flora and fauna;

25.  Calls for a step change in intelligence-gathering, law-making and law enforcement, and in the fight against corruption, in relation to wildlife trafficking in the Member States and other destination and transit countries; calls, therefore, on the Commission to pay very close attention to these aspects of administrating and monitoring the enforcement of international standards in relation to wildlife trafficking;

26.  Stresses that in order to avoid the ‘migration’ of wildlife criminal networks, the harmonisation of policies and legal frameworks with respect to wildlife crime is particularly important;

27.  Underlines the need for improved inter-agency cooperation and for functioning and timely data sharing between national and EU-level implementation and enforcement agencies; calls for the creation of strategic enforcement networks at both EU and Member State level in order to facilitate and improve such cooperation; calls on all the Member States to establish wildlife crime units to facilitate implementation across the various agencies;

28.  Calls on the Member States to provide Europol with continuous and relevant intelligence and data; urges Europol to consider wildlife crime in the next EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA); calls for the establishment of a specialised Wildlife Crime Unit within Europol, with transnational powers and responsibilities and sufficient financial and human resources, enabling centralised information and analysis and coordinated enforcement strategies and investigations;

29.  Calls on the Commission to promote the EU-TWIX system as a proven and well-functioning tool for Member States to share data and information, and to ensure a long-term financial commitment to it; believes that civil society organisations can play an important role in monitoring enforcement and reporting on wildlife crime; calls for further cooperation from the EU and the Member States to support such efforts by NGOs;

30.  Notes the links between wildlife crime and other forms of organised crime, including money laundering and the financing of militias and terrorist groups, and considers international cooperation for the combating of illicit financial flows to be a priority; calls for the EU and the Member States to use all relevant instruments, including cooperation with the financial sector, and to monitor and carry out research on the effects of emerging financial products and practices that are involved in this activity;

31.  Urges the Member States to fully implement the provisions of Directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environment through criminal law and to set appropriate levels of sanctions for wildlife crime offences; is concerned that some Member States have not yet fully implemented the directive and calls on the Commission to assess the implementation in each Member State, especially in terms of penalties, and to provide guidance; calls on the Commission to undertake a review of Directive 2008/99/EC, in particular with regard to its effectiveness in combating wildlife crime, within the time frame set out in the EU Agenda for Security, and to make a proposal to revise it as appropriate; calls on the Commission to take steps towards establishing and implementing common minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions relating to wildlife trafficking, pursuant to Article 83(1) TFEU on particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension;

32.  Considers that the customs dimension of the Action Plan should be further highlighted, with regard to both cooperation with partner countries and better and more effective implementation within the Union; looks forward, therefore, to the Commission’s 2016 review of the implementation and enforcement of the EU’s current legal framework, and asks for this review to include an assessment of customs procedures;

33.  Urges the Member States to effectively implement and comply with the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) as a basis for international action and mutual legal assistance and as a key step towards a common coordinated approach to combating wildlife crime; deeply regrets, in this connection, the fact that eleven Member States have not yet implemented UNTOC; calls on the Member States in question to implement the Convention as soon as possible;

34.  Considers that action against wildlife crime requires consistent, effective and dissuasive criminal penalties; urges the Member States to define wildlife trafficking as a serious crime in accordance with Article 2(b) of UNTOC;

35.  Recognises the need for guidance on prosecution and sentencing for Member State judiciaries and prosecutors and the need for training for customs and enforcement officers at entry points into the EU; considers UNEP’s ‘Global Judges Programme’ and the ‘Green Customs Initiative’ partnership as models to follow;

36.  Calls on the Commission, the relevant EU agencies and the Member States to recognise the scale of online wildlife trafficking and to build capacity within environmental crime and customs units, coordination with cybercrime units, and engagement with civil society organisations, in order to ensure that channels exist to trigger assistance from cross-border units specialised in cybercrime;

37.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to engage with the operators of social media platforms, search engines and e-commerce platforms on the problem of the illegal internet trade in wildlife; calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen control measures and to develop policies to address potential illegal activity on the internet; in this regard, calls on the Commission to develop guidelines on how to address the problem of online wildlife crime at EU level;

38.  Calls on EU and Member State enforcement agencies to identify and monitor the patterns of other forms of serious and organised crime, such as human trafficking, in order to aid prevention activities and the investigation of irregularities in the supply chain when tackling wildlife trafficking, for example suspicious shipments and financial transactions;

39.  Welcomes the fact that the EU participated in COP17 for the first time as a party to CITES and welcomes the fact that the EU and the Member States demonstrate strong dedication and provide substantial financial support for CITES;

40.  Welcomes UNEP’s expert review process, which is seeking to create a universally recognised definition of environmental crime; in this regard, notes that the legal boundaries between different types of environmental crimes are sometimes unclear, which can reduce opportunities for effective prosecution and punishment;

Strengthening the global partnership

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up dialogue and cooperation with source, transit and destination countries in the wildlife trafficking supply chain and to provide them with technical and economic assistance and diplomatic support; believes that the EU must act at international level to support third countries in combating wildlife trafficking and contribute to the further development of necessary legal frameworks through bilateral and multilateral agreements;

42.  Highlights that widespread corruption, institutional weaknesses, state erosion, mismanagement and weak penalties for wildlife crime are major challenges that need to be addressed if transnational wildlife trafficking is to be combated effectively; urges the EU to support developing countries in their efforts to reduce poaching incentives by improving economic opportunities and promoting good governance and the rule of law;

43.  Calls on the EU institutions, the Member States and all states concerned to investigate more systematically the links between wildlife trafficking and regional conflicts and terrorism;

44.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to establish a trust fund or similar facility under Article 187 of the revised Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the Union, with the objective of safeguarding protected areas and combating wildlife trafficking and poaching, as part of the Action Plan against wildlife trafficking;

45.  Calls on the EU to upgrade the financial and technical support, provided through the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) and the European Development Fund (EDF), aimed at helping developing countries implement national wildlife regulations in line with CITES recommendations, particularly for those with insufficient resources to enforce legislation and prosecute smugglers;

46.  Calls on the Commission to consider funding under the Partnership Instrument for initiatives aimed at reducing demand for illicit wildlife products in key markets, in line with Priority 1 of the Action Plan; highlights that the involvement of civil society in the monitoring structures under the trade and sustainable development chapters of EU trade agreements can make significant contributions in this regard;

47.  Stresses the importance of addressing, in the context of the EU-China Strategic Partnership, the sensitive issue of the growing demand for wildlife products, such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger bones, which represents a real threat to the conservation of the species concerned and to biodiversity in general;

48.  Calls on the Commission to include mandatory and enforceable sustainable development chapters in all EU trade agreements and negotiations, with specific reference to halting illegal trade in wildlife in all economic sectors, and calls on the Commission to include analyses of these provisions in its implementation reports; urges the Commission to emphasise the implementation of CITES and measures against wildlife crime in the GSP+ trade scheme;

49.  Notes that corruption is one of the main enablers and contributors to the trade in illegal wildlife and wildlife products; welcomes the commitment made in the Commission strategy entitled ‘Trade for All’ to include ambitious anti-corruption provisions to tackle the direct and indirect impact of both corruption and wildlife trafficking in all future trade agreements; requests, therefore, that the Commission pay the utmost attention to the facets of administration and monitoring of the enforcement of international standards in relation to wildlife trafficking;

50.  Calls on the EU to explore, within the scope of the WTO framework, how global trade and environmental regimes can better support each other, especially in the context of ongoing work on strengthening coherence between the WTO and Multilateral Environmental Agreements, as well as in light of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which opens up new avenues for cooperation between customs and wildlife and trade officials, especially in developing countries; considers that further opportunities for cooperation between the WTO and CITES should be explored, in particular in terms of offering technical assistance and capacity-building on trade and environment matters to officials from developing countries;

51.  Underlines the key role of international cooperation by the organisations in the enforcement chain; calls on the EU and the Member States to continue to support the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC); welcomes any strengthening of this support, including through the provision of financial resources and specialist expertise, in order to facilitate capacity-building, promote the exchange of information and intelligence and support enforcement and compliance; calls on the Commission to use ICCWC indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of EU funding to third countries in support of actions against wildlife trafficking and to facilitate a uniform and credible assessment of development funding;

52.  Welcomes international law enforcement operations such as Operation COBRA III, which result in significant seizures of illegal wildlife products and arrests of traffickers and provide increased public visibility of wildlife trafficking as a serious organised crime;

53.  Calls on the Member States to reinforce the CITES budget so that the organisation can expand its monitoring activity and species designation; in this regard, regrets that six Member States still have outstanding payments from the years 1992 to 2015 to be made to CITES;

54.  Welcomes also the fact that the EU Action Plan makes a major contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed by heads of state at a UN summit in September 2015;

EU as a destination market, source and transit point

55.  Notes that CITES, the EU Timber Regulation and the EU IUU regulatory framework are important tools for regulating international wildlife trade; is concerned, however, about the lack of proper implementation and enforcement and calls on Member States to step up their joint and coordinated efforts to ensure effective implementation; is concerned, furthermore, about gaps in the current regulatory framework with regard to species and actors; calls, therefore, for the EU to review the existing legislative framework with a view to supplementing it with a prohibition on the making available and placing on the market, transport, acquisition and possession of wildlife that has been illegally harvested or traded in third countries; considers that such legislation could harmonise the existing EU framework and that the transnational impact of such legislation could play a key role in reducing global wildlife trafficking; in this respect, highlights that such legislation must provide full transparency regarding any trade prohibitions of species based on their illegal status in a third country in order to ensure legal certainty for those involved in legal trade;

56.  Underlines that trophy hunting has contributed to large-scale declines in endangered species listed in CITES Appendices I and II and urges the Commission and the Member States to establish a precautionary approach for the import of hunting trophies from species protected under the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations, to support the further strengthening of the EU’s legal provisions governing the import of hunting trophies into EU Member States, and to require permits for the import of trophies of all species listed in Annex B to Regulation (EC) No 338/97;

57.  Welcomes the 2016 Buckingham Palace Declaration, in which signatories from airlines, shipping firms, port operators, customs agencies, intergovernmental organisations and conservation charities commit to raising standards across the transport sector with a focus on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource sharing across companies and organisations worldwide; calls on all parties to fully implement the commitments of the Declaration; encourages the Member States to promote voluntary commitments similar to the Buckingham Palace Declaration in other areas, in particular the financial and e-commerce sectors;

58.  Calls for the full and immediate ban at European level of trade, export or re-export within the EU and to destinations outside the EU of ivory, including ‘pre-Convention’ ivory, and rhino horns; calls for the establishment of a mechanism to assess the need for similar restrictions for other endangered species;

59.  Notes that the EU regulation to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has made an impact, but insists that implementation should be more robust in order to ensure that no illegal fish enter the European market; suggests that the EU Member States should be more consistent and effective in checks of catch documentation (catch certificates) and consignments (in particular from countries judged as high-risk) in order to ensure that fish have been caught legally;

60.  Highlights the importance of the private sector’s involvement in the fight against wildlife trafficking by means of self-regulation and through corporate social responsibility; considers traceability in the supply chain essential for legal and sustainable trade, whether commercial or non-commercial; highlights the need for cooperation and coordination at international level as well as between the public and private sectors and calls on the EU to strengthen the existing control instruments, including the use of traceability mechanisms; considers that the transport sector should play a pivotal role, for example by implementing an early warning detection system; notes the important role public-private partnerships can play in this regard;

61.  Calls, in addition to border checks required under Regulation (EC) No 338/97, for Member States to introduce in-country compliance monitoring with regular checks on traders and permit holders such as pet shops, breeders, research centres and nurseries, and including monitoring of trades such as fashion, art, medicine and catering, that may use illegal plant and animal parts;

62.  Calls on the Member States to ensure the immediate confiscation of any seized specimens and the care and re-homing of seized or confiscated live specimens at animal rescue centres appropriate to the species; calls on the Commission to provide guidance to ensure that all wildlife rescue centres used by the Member States are of adequate standard; calls, furthermore, on the EU and the Member States to ensure adequate financing of animal rescue centres;

63.  Calls on the Member States to adopt national plans for the handling of live confiscated specimens in line with Annex 3 to CITES Resolution Conference 10.7 (Rev. CoP15); stresses that Member States should report all seized live specimens to EU-TWIX and that annual summary reports should be published, and that Member States should ensure that the training of enforcement officers includes welfare and safety considerations for the handling of live animals; calls on the EU and the Member States to commit adequate financial support to wildlife rescue centres;

64.  Calls on the Member States to consider ‘positive list’ species systems, whereby exotic species are assessed objectively and according to scientific criteria for their safety and suitability for trading and keeping as pets;

o   o

65.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0031.
(2)OJ L 75, 19.3.2015, p. 1.
(3)OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, p. 23.
(4)OJ L 286, 29.10.2008, p. 1.
(5)OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 1.
(6)OJ L 77, 24.3.2009, p. 1.
(7)OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 28.
(8)OJ L 94, 9.4.1999, p. 24.
(9)OJ L 20, 26.1.2010, p. 7.
(10)OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.
General Information

Continuing Session, Speakers in Permanent Forum Call upon Governments to Repeal Oppressive Laws, Practices that Encroach on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The collective rights of indigenous communities must be preserved and respected the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues heard today, as speakers took stock of progress made in the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Representatives of Governments, intergovernmental organizations and indigenous groups all took part in the first wide-ranging general debate of the Forum’s fifteenth session.

“Without fair policies and social justice, there will never be peace and true social development,” stressed one speaker representing indigenous peoples and communities.

Many participants pointed to Government and private sector actions that had resulted in the plundering and destruction of natural resources.  In that context, speakers urged the Forum to monitor and ensure implementation of the Declaration and called on Governments to repeal oppressive laws and practices that encroached on the fundamental rights of indigenous communities and peoples.

Other delegations lamented the plight of indigenous human rights defenders, many of whom had been targeted and subjected to intimidation, harassment and violence.

Per Olsson Fridh, State Secretary to the Minister for Culture and Democracy of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, noted that civic space was shrinking in many countries and legal restrictions had been imposed in more than 50 countries in recent years.  Indigenous human rights defenders were routinely subjected to violence and attacks on them worldwide must come to an end.

The unique needs of the most vulnerable within indigenous communities were highlighted by a number of speakers, including the representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who said a number of the its programmes and advocacy efforts were geared specifically towards marginalized groups.

The rights of indigenous women and girls to participate in decision-making processes and policy formulation, access to sexual and reproductive health, including maternal health and family planning, and the ability to fully exercise their reproductive rights were all of utmost importance, he stressed.

Unjust educational policies had historically inflicted great harm on indigenous communities, many speakers said, underscoring that tribal self-determination and self-governance must extend to the education of indigenous children.  In that regard, the delegate of the United States acknowledged that the forced removal of children from their homes and placement in boarding schools had caused intergenerational harm

Many delegates focused on the need to protect indigenous languages, with the delegate of Venezuela telling the forum that her Government established an institute to preserve and promote indigenous peoples’ languages and ensure that education policies existed based on indigenous values and cultures.

The nexus between sustainable development and indigenous peoples was also explored by many speakers, with many pointing to the importance of sustainable agricultural practices.

Traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities could support social well-being and sustainable livelihoods noted the delegate of the Dominican Republic, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).  In that context, the Community had recognized that indigenous peoples had the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and cultural expressions.

In an announcement that drew wide applause, Carolyn Bennett, Minister for Indigenous and Northern Affairs of Canada, announced that her country was now a full supporter of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without qualifications.

Canada was among the only countries that had incorporated indigenous peoples’ rights in its Constitution, under section 35, she noted, saying that with the Declaration’s adoption, her State would “breathe life” in to that section.  Self-government agreements were the ultimate expression of free, prior and informed consent.

Also speaking today were representatives of Guatemala, Colombia, Norway, Namibia, Panama, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Estonia, Peru, El Salvador, Venezuela, China, Australia and Brazil

Representatives of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also spoke.

Speakers representing Metis National Council, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Figi Indigenous Peoples Foundation, New Zealand Nurses Organization, West Paupa Interest Association, Australian Human Right Commission, Cultural Survival, Kapaeeng Foundation, Vivat International Franciscans International, National Indian Youth Council Inc., Nation of the South Caribbean of Nicaragua, International Development Law Organization, Raipon, Maari Ma Health Corporation, Indigenous Network on Economics and Trade, Meilis of the Crimean Tartar People of Crimea, Tribal Link, Assyrian Aid Society Iraq, Congreso General Guna, Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, Hinerupe Marae, Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus, Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humaos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and the Council of Western Mayan People of Guatemala also spoke.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 11 May, to continue its session.


PER OLSSON FRIDH, State Secretary to the Minister for Culture and Democracy of Sweden, delivered a statement on behalf of his country, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, and said that the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples would continue to be long-standing priorities.  The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was a milestone in recognizing the status and rights of indigenous peoples and the fulfilment of its objectives would require continuous and consistent work both at the national and international level.  Sweden, Norway and Finland were currently negotiating a Nordic Sámi Convention, which was aimed at reaching a common understanding of unresolved issues.  It was hoped the Convention would promote the protection of the human rights of the Sámi so they could preserve and develop their language, culture, livelihood and social life.  Given that the Sámi lived in all three countries, the Convention also aimed at ensuring that the its objectives could be reached with as little restriction to State boundaries as possible.

Human rights defenders engaged in the promotion of the human rights of indigenous peoples had been targeted and subjected to intimidation, harassment and violence, he continued.  Civic space was shrinking in many countries and legal restrictions had been imposed in more than 50 countries in recent years.  In some countries, indigenous human rights defenders were particularly subjected to violence, too often resulting in tragic deaths.  Attacks on human rights defenders worldwide must come to an end.  The Nordic countries strongly called on all States to abide by their human rights obligations and commitments by ensuring that indigenous human rights defenders could work without fear of being subjected to any form of reprisal, harassment, intimidation or violence.  The situation faced by indigenous women and girls was particularly severe, many of whom experienced complex, multidimensional and mutually reinforcing human rights violations and abuses.  In that context, Nordic countries placed special emphasis on the importance of safeguarding the rights of indigenous women and girls.

BRAULIO FERREIRA DE SOUZA DIAS, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, described a number of international standards which the Conference of the Parties to the Convention had adopted in relation to the session’s theme, “conflict, peace and resolution”.  Such standards and guidelines provided for legal clarity and minimal standards and contributed to peace and the avoidance of conflicts.  At their thirteenth meeting to be held in Mexico in December, States parties would consider the adoption of guidelines for the development of national measures to ensure the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities for accessing their knowledge, innovations and practices, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use and application of such knowledge.  They would also consider guidelines for the repatriation of indigenous and transitional knowledge, in order to assist indigenous peoples in knowledge and cultural restoration.  In preparation for that meeting, the Convention secretariat was implementing, with support from Japan and other donors, a training programme carried out in partnership with indigenous organizations in five regions.

CLÉMENT CHARTIER, Metis National Council, said substantial progress had been made from the first indigenous peoples meeting in 1977 in Geneva, to the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to events today.  He welcomed Canada’s re-engagement in the international community after its 10-year absence from a positive role.  Noting that Canada had supported the World Council on Indigenous Peoples, he said indigenous leaders would call for the country’s fiscal assistance for the creation of an organization for indigenous peoples to engage fully in the Organization of American States (OAS).  Next week, negotiations would be held on an American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a view to developing standards, rights and recognition for indigenous peoples in that region.  He expected Canada to join his delegation there next week.

MILDRED GUZMÁN MADERA (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the third International Conference on Financing for Development had recognized that traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities could support social well-being and sustainable livelihoods.  It had further recognized that indigenous peoples had the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and cultural expressions.  Sustainable development could not be attained without the inclusion of groups and people in vulnerable situations, including indigenous peoples.  She added that equity, social and financial inclusion and access to fair credit were central to ensuring overall access to justice, participation, well-being and dignity for indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples played a significant role in sustainable development, she continued, recognizing in particular the importance of sustainable agricultural practices associated with biodiversity and the exploitation of resources.  In that regard, the Group had decided to strengthen the region’s productive capacity, placing emphasis on sustainable local and cultural practices of indigenous peoples and local communities with a view towards optimizing the use of and access to water for irrigation and the proper management of basins, the recovery of soil fertility and the preservation and increase of biodiversity, according to the legislation of each country.  She called for steps to protect the patents on traditional and ancestral knowledge of indigenous and tribal peoples and local communities to prevent violation by third parties through registrations that ignored their ownership.  The States of the region supported the empowerment and capacity-building of indigenous women and youth, including their participation in decision-making processes in matters that affected them.

HAI-YUEAN TUALIMA, Indigenous Fellow at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), said her organization had renewed the mandate of its Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore for 2016-2017.  Since 2009, WIPO had undertaken intense negotiations with the aim of reaching an agreement on an international legal instrument or instruments relating to intellectual property which would ensure the balanced, effective protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.  The three current draft texts reflected unique approaches to the protection of those resources and knowledge, she said, and included indigenous peoples and local communities as beneficiaries of their protection.  The organization had taken robust and consistent measures, including capacity-building initiatives, to address the concerns and interests of indigenous peoples and local communities and to ensure their participation in WIPO negotiation processes.  It had further undertaken and submitted a technical review, as requested by the Permanent Forum at its eleventh session, focusing on the draft texts that had been developed within WIPO negotiations.

SARAH DEKDEKEN, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, said the plight of indigenous peoples in the Philippines had turned from bad to worse, with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples serving as an instrument for violating their rights rather than protecting them.  The Government had violated their collective rights to ancestral lands and plundered their resources through mining and energy projects.  She urged the Forum to monitor and ensure implementation of the Declaration, and encourage the Philippines to respect indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources.  Oppressive laws and policies that displaced communities, among other things, must be repealed and the Government urged to comply with its international humanitarian law obligations.

RAÚL MORALES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, welcomed efforts to improve the effectiveness of the Forum’s deliberations, which had great importance for drawing attention to Member States about the issues facing indigenous peoples.  Guatemala had made progress in implementing the Declaration, including by setting up a high-level body dedicated to strategic and coordinated action on indigenous issues.  Guatemala had in place a national development plan formulated in a consultative fashion, which guided the action of the State.  Its key features included increasing access to education and health care, improving nutrition, reducing infant and maternal mortality, expanding the range of school programmes with cultural relevance, and improving access to potable water and basic sanitation, all while taking into account the cultural practices of individual communities.  Guatemala had also put into place a public policy addressing reparations for individuals and communities affected by infrastructure projects and had initiated a historic process of national dialogue on judicial reform.  Despite some shortcomings, Guatemala had shown signs of progress and change and remained well-positioned to bridge the gaps that existed.

BOYAN RADOYKOV, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), described work at the policy, operational and normative levels, noting that the organization was developing a policy to engage with indigenous peoples.  Launched in 2011, the process had advanced through consultative workshops held with indigenous peoples in Santiago, Luanda, Chiang Mai, New York, Geneva and Paris.  The policy would be finalized and submitted to the UNESCO board for possible adoption in 2017.  There was a risk that most indigenous knowledge was being lost, and with it, valuable records on traditional ways of life.  UNESCO was working to develop policies on indigenous cultures, and along with the Convention on Biological Diversity, was promoting links between biological and cultural diversity in the context of that convention.  The World Summit on Information Society also offered an opportunity to mainstream indigenous issues into ongoing debates.

ADI ASENACA CAUCAU, Fiji Indigenous Peoples Foundation, highlighted the Fiji Government’s failure to recognize the Declaration, noting that it had instilled fear in indigenous communities by striking a bilateral agreement with Indonesia, which had allowed that country to enter Fiji to carry out work in its schools, a sign of disrespect.  The Government had violated indigenous groups’ rights, and many cases had not been investigated.  Health services were in decline and she cited environmental issues around copper mines in that context.  In a March 2015 report, Amnesty International had found that the Government had agreed to ensure economic and social development, but that civil and political rights had not been promoted.  The Government had not set a standard for the treatment for indigenous peoples, leaving them exposed to human rights abuses.  Non-recognition of the Declaration had led to absence of dialogue between the Government and indigenous peoples.

CARMEN INÉS VÁSQUEZ CAMACHO, Vice-Minister for Participation and Equal Rights of Colombia, said there were about 1.4 million indigenous peoples in her country, which represented 3.4 per cent of the total population.  The rule of law and democracy should be the minimum standard for setting public policy, including for minorities.  Colombia’s development road map had set resource distribution strategies aimed at improving the living conditions of indigenous peoples and bolstering their cultural identities.  By reducing inequality and poverty, all people would gain increased access to public services, appropriate living conditions, improved access to other regions of the country, and quality health care and education.  Colombia had established a mechanism for the protection of the legal security of territories occupied by indigenous peoples.  Progress had also been made in developing linguistic policies.  In that context, in addition to Spanish, there were 65 native languages in Colombia that were recognized as official languages in their respective areas.  There was widespread recognition of the vulnerability of indigenous women, which had prompted the country to employ leadership and empowerment strategies for women and girls.

GRETHEL AGUILAR, International Union for Conservation of Nature, said the Declaration was approved by the Union in 2008 and was incorporated into its programme framework starting in 2012.  Indigenous issues were a key part of the Union’s human-rights-based approach.  The most relevant provision of the Declaration applicable to the Union’s work was the provision that detailed the right to conservation and the protection of the environment, including the production capacities of ancestral lands.  The Declaration was the only instrument that had established the right to the protection of the environment.  The history of colonization and trends towards economic development had severely affected the well-being of indigenous peoples.  A mapping exercise had been conducted in Central America, aimed at increasing the knowledge of the relationship between nature conservation and indigenous peoples.

KERRI NUKU, New Zealand Nurses Organization, said Māori had equal rights to health and acknowledged their right to good health included physical, cultural and spiritual well-being.  There were ethnic disparities in life expectancy between Māori and non-Māori peoples.  Having a Māori health workforce would be essential to a long-term strategy for improving outcomes.  Yet, the nursing workforce did not reflect the community it served.  There would be a shortage of 50,000 Māori nurses by 2035 and little work was being done to address that alarming situation. Without measuring the problem, no confidence could be placed in a Māori workforce strategy.  Also, the lack of pay parity was a historical inequity, with a 2012 Human Rights Commission report showing a 25 per cent pay gap between Māori health professionals and others in health settings.

ANNE KARIN OLLI, State Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Modernization of Norway, also speaking also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, underscored the need to recognize the special contributions of indigenous people in common sustainable development efforts, which would determine the success of the new global framework on climate change.  They played an important role in mitigation and adaptation through their historic role as the most effective stewards of the world’s forests.  She urged investing in secure tenure for indigenous peoples, which could enhance their participation in the management and use of State-owned land.  In the area of education, qualified teachers and learning materials were needed to overcome the lack of instruction in mother tongue languages.  She hoped to create more opportunities for Sami children and youth in that context.

LUIS MORA, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said the Fund worked in more than 150 countries and territories that were home to the vast majority of the world’s people.  In its programmes and advocacy efforts, UNFPA placed emphasis on the rights of indigenous women and girls to participate in decision-making processes and policy formulation, their access to sexual and reproductive health, including maternal health and family planning, and the ability to fully exercise their reproductive rights.  UNFPA had supported efforts to establish an intercultural and human-rights-centred approach to sexual and reproductive health in Latin America.  In many parts of the world, indigenous peoples were still invisible, either because national statistics did not disaggregate information or simply because their indigenous identity was not recognized.

RONALD WAROMI, West Papua Interest Association, recalled that, in 1963, Netherlands New Guinea — or West Papua — had joined Indonesia as Irian Jaya, the dishonest result of the “act of free choice”, after which his peoples’ fundamental human rights and freedoms had never been fully guaranteed.  The political process was still being questioned by West Papua indigenous peoples who have called for independence.  West Papua indigenous peoples continued to suffer discrimination, marginalization and extreme poverty.  They had rejected Special Autonomy Law No. 21 in Papua Province and called for self-determination.  Human rights violations against indigenous West Papuan peoples had been highlighted in a Human Rights Council Working Group report.

CAROLYN BENNETT, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs of Canada, said the Declaration was the result of indigenous peoples’ long struggles for recognition, marking a monumental shift to protect their rights, culture, language and dignity worldwide.  Noting that former High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour had shepherded the Declaration’s adoption at the Human Rights Council, she said the Prime Minister had stated in mandate letters to ministers that no relationship was more important than that with indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.  She announced that Canada was now a full supporter of the Declaration without qualifications.  It was among the only countries that had incorporated indigenous peoples’ rights in its Constitution, under section 35.  With the Declaration’s adoption, Canada would “breathe life” in to that section.  It also viewed self-government agreements as the ultimate expression of free, prior and informed consent.  The calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had shed light on the dark history of residential schools and informed path forward for righting historical wrongs.  All Canadians must now embark on that journey.

AMBER ROBERTS, speaking on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission, said her organization had a dedicated indigenous commissioner position with a statutory reporting role to the federal parliament, providing a critical focal point to facilitate dialogue between the Australian Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organizations.  She listed a number of recommendations, including:  that the Permanent Forum ensure the full and independent participation of A-status human national human rights institutions in its sessions; that Member States establish independent national indigenous commissioner roles; and that Member States further engage in meaningful dialogue with indigenous peoples and national human rights institutions.

LAWRENCE ROBERTS, Acting Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior of the United States, noting that he was also a citizen of the Oneida Nation, said that at the seventh White House Tribal Nations Conference, the President had discussed with tribal leaders the strengthening of the nation-to-nation relationship, among other topics.  Recovering and protecting tribal land was a priority, with a goal of taking 500,000 acres of land into trust on behalf of Indian tribes.  The Government had settled more than 80 tribal cases alleging the United States’ breach of trust.  The policy of tribal self-determination and self-governance extended to education of indigenous children, he said, acknowledging the intergenerational harm caused by the forced removal of children from their homes and placement in boarding schools, a practice that had ended in the 1960s.

JAMIL AHMAD, Deputy Director of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said the organization was continuously improving its engagement with partners, including indigenous peoples, to enhance environmental sustainability and to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  It was also working to ensure that UNEP’s projects and activities respected the rights of indigenous peoples, reflecting their perspectives and needs.  Noting that indigenous peoples were at the forefront when conflicts over access to and use of natural resources and land arose, he said UNEP had responded to crisis situations in more than 40 countries.  Recent work in that area included the collaborative research project on “Mediating Natural Resource Conflicts — Guide for Mediation Practitioners” and the documentation of the impacts of industrial development on reindeer husbandry.

MARIA DEL ROSARIO SUL GONZALES, Cultural Survival, noted a number of violations of the right to free and informed consent and the abuse of land by various hydroelectric companies that had taken place in Guatemala.  In response to those violations, the Government responded by persecuting activists and accusing them of being criminals and drug traffickers.  The contamination and diversion of water by private companies was a continuous challenge for indigenous peoples in various parts of the country.  The release of political prisoners was another ongoing issue in the country.  She asked that the Forum continue to be vigilant to ensure the Government took steps to protect the well-being of indigenous peoples, as well as monitor cases in which indigenous leaders were criminalized.

ROYAL JK UI/O/OO, Deputy Minister for Marginalized Communities of Namibia, described a number of measures undertaken by his Government to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples.  The main objective of the Division of Marginalized Communities was to integrate San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba communities into the economic mainstream.  Those groups were referred to as marginalized communities, and not indigenous peoples, because all Namibians saw themselves as indigenous peoples of both the country and the continent.  In the area of education support, he said the high illiteracy rate among marginalized communities was receiving high attention, and that the Government was working to construct permanent buildings for schools.  In the area of resettlement and relocation, various farms had been procured for the resettlement of San communities in the Kunene region, where more than 800 households had been resettled.  In the area of livelihood support, the Government was working to distribute food rations under the San Feeding Programme, and income generation projects had been implemented in almost all resettlement farms and villages.

PALLAB CHAKMA, Kapeeng Foundation, said Bangladesh was home to more than 54 indigenous peoples, who comprised 2 per cent of the total population, including in the partially autonomous Chittagong Hill Tracts region and in the plains.  They were among the most neglected groups in the country.  Indigenous peoples routinely faced discrimination and human rights violations by State agencies, corporations, Bengali settlers and other non-indigenous actors.  Thousands of acres of land had been forcibly taken in the name of commercial purposes, with military camps and tourist complexes set up either on titled or customarily held lands.  The projects had been carried out without consultation or consent of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council.  He urged Bangladesh to make the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Commission functional without delay, and both the Forum and Member States to encourage that Government to implement recommendations made by the Forum at its tenth session.

Mr. GALLEGOS, Panama, associating himself with CELAC, said that his country had committed itself to guaranteeing the protection of traditional lands and property.  That was a right which was elaborated within Panama’s Constitution.  Panama had seven indigenous groups representing 12 per cent of the population.  Large portions of indigenous lands were under official designation, representing 25 per cent of the total surface area of the State.  Panama’s national development plan sought to promote intercultural dialogue and bolster democratic governance in response to demands for inclusiveness and the recognition of collective cultural rights.  Inhabitants should be permitted to enjoy their own lifestyle, provide for their own well-being and have access to the joint benefits of the country.  The Government had sought to reduce poverty levels and improve the economic positions of indigenous peoples by strengthening their traditional ways of life and increasing women and young peoples’ access to education, health care and infrastructure.  The Government remained committed to a six-month round-table discussion with indigenous peoples, as part of the country’s move towards ratifying international labour conventions.

ROBERT MIRSEL, Vivat International Franciscans International, noted that mining activities in Indonesia, Brazil and the Philippines had not only been destructive, but also marginalized and excluded indigenous peoples from their territories.  Land-grabbing had allowed for the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo and West Papua, Indonesia, both by transnational and national corporations through concessions provided by national and local governments, in violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent.  The violation of the human rights of activists, environmentalists and human rights defenders was of great concern.  “Without fair policies and social justice, there will never be peace and true social development,” he said.

KUNTI KUMARI SHAHI, Minister of State for Federal Affairs and Local Development of Nepal, said her country was home to over 125 ethnic groups, 59 of which were listed as indigenous nationalities.  Noting that Nepal was emerging from conflict, she went on to say that, for the first time in its history, the country’s speaker of the Parliament was an indigenous woman.  The new Constitution provided for the protection and promotion of cultures, languages, arts and scripts of marginalized people, and established independent commissions for such people.  The country had been implementing the six mandated areas identified by the Permanent Forum, and it had established the National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities.  Furthermore, the Government had introduced affirmative action for indigenous nationalities in the public services.

Ms. WILLIAMS (New Zealand), reiterating the importance of indigenous languages, said Māori culture and heritage were a critical part of her country’s national identity.  The Government supported the protection of Māori cultural heritage through a range of domestic measures, including legislation, funding and monitoring.  One of its national education goals was to advance Māori education initiatives, she said, noting that, while much progress had been made in that area, much remained to be done.  The Government had therefore developed the Māori Education Strategy 2013-2017, which was designed to rapidly change how the education system performed so that all Māori students gained the skills, qualifications and knowledge needed to achieve and enjoy educational success.  Noting that Māori had poorer health outcomes than non-Māori, she said the Māori Health Strategy guided the health and disability sectors to achieve the best possible outcomes for Māori.

ROBIN MINTHORNE, National Indian Youth Council, said research had shown that more than one in three native women would be raped in their lifetime; 55 per cent of them would experience sexual violence in their lives.  There were several reasons why such abuse was underreported.  Sexual violence averaged at an annual rate as 7.2 per 1,000, while 34.1 per cent of Alaska native women would be raped in their lifetimes.  It was a systemic issue.  She recounted the experience of a Navajo girl abducted by another member of the Navajo Nation, a story that had shaken the state of New Mexico and Indian country, as it had spotlighted the problem of access to state-wide emergency response.  Indigenous peoples had the right to self-determination, to autonomy and self-government, the right to life and to security of person.  It was important to identify issues impacting indigenous women and to use the Declaration to connect states to indigenous communities.

JOHNNY HODGSON, Representative of Nation of the South Caribbean of Nicaragua, associating himself with CELAC and the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples, said that, for the last nine years, the Caribbean population in his country had seen significant progress in the restitution of their rights.  Law 445, enacted in 2003, recognized the right to communal property and restitution of that right, while there was access to preschool, primary and secondary education, with a regional autonomous education system along the coast.  There was greater access to health care, with coverage increasing for indigenous communities and those of African descent.  For the Grand Interoceanic Canal project, a consultation process had been carried out to ensure the free, prior and informed consent of the Rama and Kriol people.  On 10 January the Assembly of Rama and Kriol had adopted a draft document indicating consent, based on the environmental impact assessment, which had been reviewed by several communities.  On 3 May, the agreement was signed and it would be published in the official gazette.

JUDIT ARENAS LICEA, speaking on behalf of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), said her organization promoted legal pluralism because there was no single legal system that trumped others.  Underscoring the principles of equality, inclusion, sustainable development and respect for human rights, she said her organization proudly shared the values of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Noting that poverty, marginalization, loss of habitat and in some places outright extinction still threatened indigenous peoples around the world, she said that indigenous voices were rarely heard in processes and decisions that affected them directly.  Her organization worked at the policy and advocacy levels to redress that challenge.  The inclusion of the rule of law in the new sustainable development paradigm was a powerful way to include indigenous people in decision-making and to support legal pluralism.  Her organization was working with ministries of justice in various countries, as well as with indigenous community leaders on legal issues, such as the reduction of land-related conflicts.

LEDKOV GRIGORII, speaking on behalf of Raipon, said his organization was involved in preserving the way of life of the indigenous groups of the Russian Federation.  The group was currently carrying out programmes to revitalize indigenous languages.  For example, 80 per cent of the words used by reindeer herders came from indigenous languages, so helping to preserve their way of life also helped to preserve language.  He noted that indigenous people themselves bore the greatest responsibility to preserve their language and culture, and proposed that the Forum’s outcome document include an appeal to individual indigenous people that they work to preserve their native languages at home.

Mr. VACA, Member of Parliament of Bolivia, associating himself with CELAC, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to implement the outcome of the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, which outlined a global agenda and path for implementing the Declaration.  He welcomed the Human Rights Council resolution requesting a review of the Expert Mechanism mandate, calling on all interested parties to contribute to that process and recalling the commitment in resolution 70/232 on indigenous peoples’ participation and representation in United Nations meetings.  Indigenous peoples had resisted colonization, preserving their culture and philosophy to live in balance with mother Earth.  “We want to build a society and State that are more inclusive,” he said, in order to fight extreme poverty.  In such efforts, Bolivia had referred to traditional knowledge, medicine and plants, which were sources of “great scientific wisdom” and could be used in food production to increase food security.

JUSTIN FILES, speaking on behalf of the Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation, said education and health could drive current and future self-determination by facilitating access to decision-making in public and private sectors, leading to indigenous empowerment.  The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy, adopted in 2015, included an initial set of national priorities, such as childhood education and care, early childhood transitions and attendance and engagement.  Noting that, like many indigenous peoples, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was facing crisis levels of suicide, he asked the members of the Forum to urge nations to implement their commitment to the principles of indigenous sovereignty and social justice by ensuring that indigenous peoples were able to exercise their rights to education and health.  He further asked them to ensure that nations were engaging effectively with indigenous peoples’ organizations in line with the principles of free, prior and informed consent.

YON FERNANDEZ DE LARRINOA, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the system-wide action plan for achieving the Declaration gave United Nations agencies funds to advance agenda by building respect among indigenous representatives, States, the Forum and agencies.  Coordination was more important than ever.  There were several results:  free prior and informed consent was now mandatory within his organization, and included a programme manual.  FAO had opened a grievance office related to non-compliance with obligations, which now included free, prior and informed consent.  It was launching national programmes for indigenous women on human rights, food and nutrition security, and collaboration with the indigenous women’s global leadership school.  Indigenous peoples were among the hardest hit by climate change.  Their knowledge was essential for mitigation and adaptation, which was why it launching forests projects.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica), associating himself with CELAC, described his country’s comprehensive legal framework, noting that it was a State party to International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169, which superseded the Constitution.  Last August, a constitutional reform established the pluri-cultural nature of the country, defining it as democratic, free, multi-ethnic and pluri-cultural.  The situation of indigenous peoples must be addressed through a rights-based focus.  Education reform had culminated with a 2013 decree modifying the indigenous education subsystem, which now ensured that ancestral languages were preserved and spoken, as well as development of a context based curriculum.  A national financial system for housing benefitted indigenous populations, and to fight discrimination, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security offered economic subsidies to help vulnerable segments of the population.

CHIEF DONALD HARRIS, Indigenous Network on Economics and Trade, expressed concern about an ongoing controversy in which the Government of Canada had threatened to modify or terminate the right of indigenous people to access portions of its ancestral land.  The dispute had caused significant conflict between and within indigenous peoples in British Colombia.  The affected indigenous groups had sought to engage the Government, but the efforts had failed to resolve the conflict.  Despite claims by the Canadian Government that it would fully adopt the Declaration, the principle of free and prior informed consent had not been historically honoured.  Land claim agreements had a history of extinguishing indigenous rights.  He urged the Government to acknowledge the rights of the indigenous people in order to achieve peace.

SVEN JÜRGENSEN (Estonia) said the outcome document of the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples included deliverables for the United Nations and it had taken those mandates seriously, with the launch of the action plan for achieving the Declaration.  The participation of indigenous representatives in relevant United Nations forums that addressed institutional issues was important and Estonia had been among those supporting the establishment of such consultations.  The future of Finno-Ugric peoples was an issue Estonians followed closely, often with concern.  Through the Kindred Peoples Programme, now in its fourth cycle, the Government would allocate €1.27 million for cultural and education projects.  More broadly, Estonia would continue to support the United Nations Fund on Indigenous Populations, he said, noting that communication among indigenous groups would be essential for preserving languages and cultures, efforts that should be supported by all Member States.

EMINA DZEPPAROV, Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People of Crimea, said she was a former journalist who had been forced to leave in 2014 to fight for her people.  It was a fight that had once involved her grandfather in 1944, a man who had devoted his life to return Tatars to their homeland, and her father, half a century later.  The annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014 was crucial, as the indigenous Tatar population was a target for oppression due to their opposition to the taking of their homeland.  Today, Crimea was a “stolen land” and “a peninsula of fear”.  Since 2014, arrests had been made on ethnic and religious grounds, and the independent media had been shut down, with the only Tatar television channel, a symbol of cultural and language recovery, forced out.  In two years, 21 people had gone missing, with some found dead and tortured.  Hundreds of houses had been invaded, with searches not aimed at finding something but rather, used as official instruments to terrify people.  The Tatar Mejlis, which embodied the right to self-determination, had been declared an extremist organization, and on 6 May, 50 armed people invaded a Crimean Tatar settlement, where people were demanded to undergo personal identity verification.  She called on indigenous peoples to provide moral support to Crimean Tatars.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA VELÁSQUEZ (Peru) said his Government recognized that the Forum was a platform to exchange views and ideas about indigenous issues, such as health, education, culture, human rights and economic and social development.  Peru was home to about 55 indigenous groups, which spoke 47 different ancestral languages.  Their knowledge, culture and languages were transmitted from one generation to the next.  Peru was working to promote social equality and respect for indigenous peoples’ rights.  In 2011, Peru had passed a law on the right to prior consultation, which made it the first country in the region to comply with ILO Convention 169.  Peru had carried out 23 consultative processes on topics such as hydrocarbon, mining, as well as the forest and health sectors.  The State had also engaged in activities to promote better communication with indigenous peoples, including a training programme for translators and interpreters in 35 ancestral languages.  The Government also created a registry of people in isolated areas and whether initial contact had been made to provide specialized attention and facilitate the establishment of protection measures for those indigenous groups.

MIKAELA JADE, Tribal Link, said indigenous lands, waters and subterranean environments were not commodities, but rather, intrinsic parts of peoples’ identities and livelihoods.  She decried the collapse of those natural resources, as well as the displacement, militarization, drought, contamination and evaporation of rivers, streams and lakes experienced by indigenous communities.  Furthermore, the education in non-indigenous society was not appropriate for indigenous peoples’ culture of learning and teaching.  In implementing the Declaration, she urged States to reaffirm their commitment to article 7 on the collective rights for freedom and enjoyment of human rights, and to provide annual follow up in the Forum on human rights, lands and education.

JORGE JIMÉNEZ, Director-General of Social Development, Ministry of Foreign Relations of El Salvador, associating himself with CELAC, said that, in July 2014, article 63 of the Constitution was ratified, ensuring that indigenous ethnic, cultural and spiritual identities would be maintained.  A draft policy on indigenous peoples, which contained provisions for their economic, social and political development, took a multi-ethnic approach which indigenous peoples were in the process of validating.  National institutions were engaging in activities to uphold indigenous peoples’ rights, including the Health Ministry, which was implementing a multicultural policy.  The Institute for Agricultural Transformation had a policy for equality and non-discrimination that aimed to uphold indigenous rights.  El Salvador was taking an aggressive approach to raising awareness about ancestral and traditional cultures.

PATROUS ESHO GEORGES, Assyrian Aid Society, noted the persistence of genocidal acts targeting indigenous peoples in Iraq and Syria, which had greatly increased since 2014, resulting in killing, displacement and involuntary mass migration.  It was apparent that the objective of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) was to systematically wipe out the cultural heritage of indigenous Assyrians by destroying artefacts thousands of years old.  Criminal acts were ongoing the Nineveh Plains region of Iraq, most of which was occupied by Da’esh, and the towns and villages situated in the Iraqi Kurdistan region had become a battlefield for fighting between the Turkish army and Kurdish fighters.  The Iraqi Government had approved the criminal acts committed by Da’esh against the Assyrian Christians.  As that amounted to a genocide, he demanded a number of actions, including the creation of an internationally protected zone for the indigenous peoples in the Nineveh Plains; support for the indigenous peoples there to regain and safeguard their lands; plans to stop the ongoing destruction and targeting of antiquities; and a plan to provide indigenous peoples the necessities to return to their righteous lands.

ANA CAROLINA RODRÍGUEZ DE FEBRES-CORDERO (Venezuela), associating herself with CELAC, said Latin America and the Caribbean had set an excellent example in which the words and actions of indigenous peoples were being strongly defended.  Venezuela owed an historic debt to indigenous peoples, which had suffered genocide and the plundering of their land and wealth by colonizers.  Since the adoption of Venezuela’s Constitution in 1990, the country had made sustained progress in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, including their worldview and history.  Indigenous peoples in Venezuela had become full actors with a voice and vote throughout public life.  The Constitution contained a full chapter devoted to the rights of indigenous peoples, including their social, political, economic and cultural rights.  Indigenous peoples had a right to the lands that they had historically occupied.  The Government had set up a language institute to preserve and promote indigenous peoples’ languages and ensure that education policies existed based on indigenous values and cultures.

Mr. LOPEZ, Congreso General Guna, highlighted a new programme his people had launched that focused on traditional knowledge.  There were plans under way to increase and expand that programme next year.  It was essential that individual cultures and ways of life were maintained so that future generations would have that knowledge at their disposal.  The Guna had organized and fought against the Zika epidemic and developed a programme for food security, which was especially important given the ongoing impacts of climate change and the negative effects on the agriculture sector.  The Guna had launched small community projects, which were eventually expanded into large-scale community-based undertakings.  The Guna had also focused on restoring and maintaining traditional and ancestral knowledge, including in the area of medicine.

YAO SHAOJUN (China) said countries should seize the 2030 Agenda as an opportunity to intensify implementation of the Declaration, with a focus on indigenous people’s poverty alleviation, education, health care and housing, as well as on protecting their unique culture, languages and lifestyles.  He welcomed the system-wide action plan, expressing hope that all United Nations agencies would promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in developed countries.  China did not have indigenous peoples, but firmly supported promotion of their rights.  The indigenous concept was a product of colonial history.  A distinction should be made between native and indigenous peoples, while expansion of indigenous peoples’ participation at the United Nations should be in line with the Charter, in order to ensure States’ sovereignty and political unity, and to maintain the intergovernmental nature of the Organization.  China would work with the group of advisers appointed by the General Assembly President and promote consultations on expanded participation at United Nations conferences.

ROSALEE GONZALES, Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, welcomed advances at the sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which accepted empowerment of indigenous women as a theme at a forthcoming session.  Territories throughout the Americas continued to be militarized and exploited for natural resources, she said, denouncing such militarization and defending peaceful demonstrations as an option to report on such violations.  Criminalization of the continent’s indigenous peoples had made their leaders vulnerable to death.  She asked the Forum to denounce statements that perpetuated a war against the protection and promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights.  The Forum should carry out a study on genocide perpetrated against indigenous peoples, pressing the United Nations to create a fund for indigenous women and youth.  Implementation of the Declaration required inclusion of all indigenous peoples located within nation State boundaries.

RACHEL O’CONNOR, Assistant Secretary, Strategy Policy and Coordination Branch, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet of Australia, stressed the value of the important work undertaken by the National Human Rights Institution and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner in monitoring and reporting on the enjoyment and exercise of human rights by aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  Recognizing that economic development often led to improved social and cultural outcomes, Australia was committed to creating an environment that stimulated indigenous peoples’ economic empowerment.  To that end, the country’s indigenous procurement policy set out mandatory annual procurement targets for Government agencies to award contracts to indigenous businesses.  In the first six months of the policy, direct and indirect contracts valued at more than $91 million were awarded to 250 indigenous businesses.

TINA NGATA, speaking on behalf of Hinerupe Marae, said that never before had the Earth been so gravely ill.  Conventional science had confirmed what many indigenous peoples had known for some time — that the severity of the condition called for bold, immediate action.  Brave leadership was required, she said, stressing that the next United Nations Secretary-General must be confidently supported by indigenous peoples.  She noted with concern that the nominee from New Zealand had cited the leadership of that country as a credential for the role of Secretary-General, when that same leadership had overseen multiple abuses of indigenous rights.  That same candidate, in opposition to the Māori, had refused to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, labelling it divisive, “unimplementable” and incompatible with New Zealand’s Constitution and legislative arrangements.  That track record was of extreme concern, she said, recommending that the Permanent Forum impel the United Nations to specifically consider responsiveness to indigenous rights as criteria for the role of Secretary-General.

LEIA RODRIGUES (Brazil) said her country had put in place national legislation to improve the well-being of indigenous people, taking into account the specificities of their cultures.  A special secretariat for health had been established and thousands of professionals were working to guarantee specialized attention to health issues, bearing in mind their traditions and customs.  The Government had stepped up measures to compile and process data related to indigenous peoples to enable better public policy planning.  The suicide rate among indigenous peoples in the country was much higher than that of the wider population and namely involved young men and boys.  Brazil was carrying out a number of social assistance initiatives to address the phenomena and had added traditional practices to the conventional medical services that had been employed to deal with that situation.  The health and education of indigenous populations was a priority, as was the protection of indigenous languages, which faced a number of complex challenges.

TAWERA TAHURI, Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus, called on the Forum to re-evaluate the decision to dissolve the global and regional caucus statements and reinstate their priority to speak.  It should urge States to stop using police militarization on indigenous nations and instead, allow the full, equal and effective participation of indigenous peoples in decisions affecting their lands, self-determination and rights.  Indigenous peoples had a sacred relationship with their lands and a duty to protect them.  Yet, companies were entering their territories unlawfully, without free, prior and informed consent, thereby side-stepping the original peoples holding the underlying title to them.  She rejected the Rio+20 definition of the “green economy”, stressing that a collaborative definition should be created with indigenous peoples and that the platforms for engagement with States on water regulation, among other things, required review.

LOTTIE CUNNINGHAM, Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humaos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua, said collective human rights violations were a constant reality along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.  Following progress in recognizing their land rights, their human rights situation had begun to deteriorate, as Nicaragua had failed to complete land demarcation and titling, which would have recognized the peoples’ rights to territory.  Last year had seen increased attacks by settlers on indigenous peoples, forcing the displacement of 3,000 people who had become refugees in neighbouring communities and in Honduras.  Since 2013, 28 people had been killed, 38 wounded and 18 abducted, 3 of whom had not yet been found.  She urged Nicaragua to start a land title regulatory process with priority given to lands that were in conflict and to relocate settlers.  Nicaragua had not responded to requests from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission on those issues, nor had it started dialogue with affected communities.  The Rama and Kriol people in the autonomous region of the Caribbean were to have signed a lifetime lease, however, consultations that should have involved free, prior and informed consent had not been carried out.

PATRICIA WATTIMENA, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, issued a number of recommendations to Member States, including:  that they recognize and promote the historical role and contributions of indigenous peoples in protecting and conserving the environment; develop and/or revise and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, their environment-related legislation to ensure the respect and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples; review and revise discriminatory laws, policies and programmes on traditional and sustainable livelihoods and occupations; and develop targeted and specific programmes in partnership with indigenous peoples in supporting their sustainable conservation and resource management practices.  She went on to highlight several critical areas that were impacting the rights of more than 270 million indigenous peoples in Asia, including the narrow approach to environmental conservation and protection and the conversion and exploitation of indigenous peoples’ land and resources.

NESHA XUNCAX CHE, speaking on behalf of the Council of Western Mayan People of Guatemala, expressed concern regarding systematic violations of the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples as a result of the implementation of the extractive model, which included mining, hydroelectric projects, petroleum and monocultures — all without the consent and without prior consultation of the Western Mayan people.  Since 2010, the group had been deeply outraged at the social destabilization that companies such as Hidro Cruz Water Development Projects had caused in collusion with the Governments of their territories, which had resulted in deaths, unlawful detentions, repression and militarization.  She also expressed deep concern about the systemic violations of due process by the justice system in Guatemala in relation to political prisoners.  She therefore issued a number of demands, including:  the immediate release of several political prisoners; protection for human rights defenders and community leaders; respect for the decisions of the peoples; and the annulment of mining, hydroelectric and oil licenses authorized in their territories without consultation with indigenous people.