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Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Health

These materials are Published by the Public Organization of the Republic of Karelia «Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples and Civic Diplomacy «Young Karelia» in frames of the project «Finno-Ugric Peoples of Karelia Towards Sustainable Development». Supported by the Ministry of the Republic of Karelia for National Politics, Relations with Public and Religious Associations and Mass Media (Preservation of the Unity of Peoples and Ethnoses of the Republic of Karelia in 2014-2020 (Karjala Is Our Home)) and the International Consultative Commette of Finno-Ugric Peoples. 

Dear reader!

Over the past few decades, indigenous peoples of the world have made a huge leap in the protection of their individual and collective rights. Persistence of the leaders of the indigenous peoples movement has allowed to begin to overcome the legacy of colonization and gradually come to recognize the responsibility of the international community for the most vulnerable of its members, who thanks to their proximity to nature and traditional knowledge have preserved and taken care of the cultural and natural diversity of the planet for many centuries. Today it is the turn of humanity to help indigenous communities to preserve their identities, languages and traditional ways of life and the most importantly their health. Without the full realization of the right to health it is difficult to talk about the subject of other rights, including the right to development.

We have already witnessed two international decades of the world's indigenous peoples, establishment of special United Nations mechanisms for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and holding of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. In 2017, the international community celebrates ten years of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This document became the cornerstone of the global consensus, a minimum standard description of the rights of indigenous peoples. In accordance with the articles 17, 21, 23, 24 and 29 of the Declaration, the right to health is an essential, basic right, and the majority ofStates has pledged to secure its full implementation.

In this publication you will see that we are far from the well-being of indigenous peoples in the field of health care and there are still many hurdles obstacles still to be overcome. Countries and regions differ significantly from one another, especially economically, which affects the overall health level. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that indigenous peoples often live in remote areas. But this is what allows them to maintain a unique culture. And it is in these cultures that invaluable knowledge often lies, providing vitality and being a source of health. Therefore, the key to solving the problem lies in the mutually beneficial interaction between indigenous peoples and states.

In this publication you can get acquainted with the study "Right to health and indigenous peoples with a focuson children and youth", which has been prepared by experts of a subsidiary body of the UN Human Rights Council – the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The study covers the challenges and examples of best practices from the various regions of the world, and describes the situation with respect to therealization of the right to health of indigenous peoples in the context of international standards. At the end of the study experts' advice to States, United Nations agencies and indigenous peoples themselves are presented.

The second document in this publication is the outcome document of the expert seminar on health and sustainable development of indigenous peoples of Russia. The document reflects measures to support indigenous peoples' health, the organization of health services in places of residence of the Finno-Ugric peoples of Karelia – Karelians and Vepsians. The document focuses on physical and mental health, the impact of the environment and the preservation of language and culture on health.

Alexey Tsykarev

Expert Member, United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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