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STATEMENT ON AGENDA ITEM 65 (a) and (b)Indigenous Issues and the Second International Decade of the World’sIndigenous People October 18, 2010
21 October 2010 / 01:14

65th Session
H.E. Henry Mac Donald
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of SURINAME to the United Nations
ON AGENDA ITEM 65 (a) and (b)
Indigenous Issues and the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People
October 18, 2010
 Check against delivery
Mr. Chairperson,
At the outset please allow me to congratulate you and the other members of the Bureau on your election to serve as Bureau Members of this Committee during the 65th Session of the General Assembly.
Suriname aligns itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of Belize on behalf of CARICOM.
We thank the representatives of the Secretariat and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Professor James Anaya for the presentation of the reports under agenda item 65 (a) and (b).
We have taken note of the substantive advances made in the achievement of the goal and objectives of the Second Decade of the World's Indigenous People as highlighted in the midterm assessment report. However the report also notes that there is insufficient implementation of the specific objectives of the Second Decade. As we are now advancing towards the second half of the Second Decade, Suriname will endeavor to contribute towards realizing the goal and objectives of this Second Decade.
Suriname has also proclaimed the 9th of August as an Official Holiday in recognition of indigenous people in Suriname and to reflect on the advances achieved thus far.
Indigenous and tribal people contribute significantly to our multi-ethnic, multi—cultural and multi-linguistic society. They are divided over 4 distinct tribes and next to the native peoples, Suriname’s tribal and forest dependent population consist of 6 tribes of Maroons, the descendants of Africans, who freed themselves from slavery during colonial times and established communities in the deep interior of Suriname based upon an amalgamation of African and Amerindian customs and traditions. Their traditions, culture and customs have been preserved, even after more than 300 years. Each year on the 10th of October we celebrate through rich cultural activities the signing of the Peace Treaties in second half of the 18th century.
The President of Suriname, H.E. Desire Bouterse, in his recent address to the 65th UNGA indicated that measures will be undertaken to break the cycle of the decade’s long isolation and marginalization of the indigenous and tribal peoples in Suriname. Based on the strong conviction that human capital is the most valuable asset of the country, particular attention will be paid to groups who- in the past- have had limited development opportunities, with the aim of creating a just society in which everyone participates and everyone shares in what the country has to offer.
It cannot be overemphasized that these efforts will present some challenges for my country.
International cooperation in this regard will be crucial and I would like to recall the recent renewed request for assistance from the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues in the formulation of legislation on land rights and implementation of decisions of judicial authorities, in particular the decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Small but incremental steps were already undertaken to implement this judgment and the Government will continue the open, frank and constructive dialogue to find solutions to a very complex issue. 
The ecological and socio-economic importance of forests has an eminent position
in Suriname’s domestic and foreign policy. In this regard Suriname is actively
participating in the United Nations Forum on Forests, as Bureau Member of
UNFF-9. We therefore fully support the theme of UNFF-9:”Forests for people,
livelihoods and poverty eradication”, which calls attention to social development
of indigenous and forest-dependent peoples through activities such as
community based forest management.
In preparing to observe the International Year of Forests in 2011, Suriname
supports the view that the year, should in particular highlight the holistic and
indivisible nature of indigenous peoples, their cultures and traditional forest
related knowledge.
Mr. Chairperson,
Based on the fact that indigenous and tribal peoples, according to the Population Census Data from 2005, account for approximately 18% of the total Surinamese population, Suriname supported the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples upon its adoption in 2007 by the General Assembly.
The promotion and protection of all human rights for all, including the rights of indigenous peoples remains crucial for the Government of the Republic of Suriname and the recent expressions of or movement towards support of this Declaration are welcomed.
In closing Chairperson, Suriname is convinced that through the path of constructive dialogue and peaceful coexistence between indigenous and non-indigenous populations we will be able to effectively address pertinent issues for the socio-economic well-being of one of the most disadvantaged groups in the world.
Thank you.