Spring til indhold

Velkomsttale til konference om forkæmpere for oprindelige folks arrangeret af IWGIA

Ministeren holdt talen til en konference om forkæmpere for oprindelige folks rettigheder onsdag den 5. september 2018 arrangeret af International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).

 Moderator Verner Kristiansen vil tage sig af alt protokollært og giver ordet til ministeren.


In 2015, Berta Cáceres received the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work against the construction of a dam in her country, Honduras. She was leader of the indigenous Lenca community of Río Blanco. And she was the founder of a Lenca organisation defending communities and natural resources. An outstanding example of an indigenous human rights defender. In March 2016, she was killed by armed men. According to the UN, the murder was likely linked to her work in defense of the human rights of the Lenca people. This story is tragic on many levels. It illustrates all too well many of the dangers faced by indigenous human rights defenders.

Unfortunately, this is not a unique incident. In 2016, 281 human rights defenders were killed.
Almost half of them defending their land, their environment and their indigenous rights.

Indigenous peoples are still among the poorest and most marginalized in the world.
Therefore – in line with the Agenda 2030 credo “leaving no one behind” - protecting the rights of indigenous peoples is a priority for Denmark.
A priority on which Denmark and Greenland work closely together.
Human Rights Defenders are often the first or the only ones on the ground – They are important in making sure that human rights violations are detected and prosecuted.
That also makes them some of the most exposed actors of civil society.
Thus, the work to protect and promote the work of human rights defenders is as important as ever.

Killings of Human Rights Defenders are the most brutal and visible challenges.
But far from the only kind. The right to land and access to justice are key challenges, we will discuss during this conference.
Indigenous human rights defenders are facing the combined challenges of these two groups. That clearly makes them uniquely vulnerable – and they deserve our special attention.
The overall framework is in place. Our work is guided by key documents with focus on human rights defenders and on indigenous peoples.
Still many indigenous human rights defenders face severe risks.

Therefore, I am very happy that IWGIA has chosen to mark its 50th anniversary by arranging this conference. It brings focus and unique expertise to this important issue.
We all know IWGIA and their tireless work to promote the rights of indigenous peoples.
IWGIA has taken consistent action on the ground in many developing countries. Through this, IWGIA has become an ever more important implementing partner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark in the past years. And we thank you for this.
States, international organisations, NGO’s, businesses, media and more. We are all key in moving forward.

We must work together to put a stop to fates like that of Berta Cáceres.
We all want to support and defend indigenous peoples’ rights.
But to me, the long term and overall goal must be that all peoples can defend themselves.
They must have a strong voice of their own – and it must be heard and not least respected.
And with these words I wish you all a fruitful conference.