The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) estimates that the number of Indigenous persons with disabilities could be as high as 54 million. Above, the founders of the Disability Caucus at the UNPFII in 2012. Photo courtesy of Cultural Survival.
Cultural Survival, an organization that partners with indigenous peoples to defend their lands, said there is an urgent need for greater attention and promotion of the voices of indigenous persons with disabilities.
This topic was the focus of Intersectionality of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in AsiaPacific, a side event at the 14th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on April 27, 2015.
The event was co-sponsored by the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network and the International Disability Alliance.
Cultural Survival said that it is estimated that more than one billion people, about 15 percent of the world’s population, have disabilities. No global data exists regarding indigenous persons with disabilities, however, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates that the number of indigenous persons with disabilities could be as high as 54 million.
Statistics show that indigenous peoples are disproportionately likely to experience disability in comparison to the general population and are likely to face discrimination based on their indigeneity and disability.
Both the international indigenous rights and the international disability rights movements have achieved great advances in recent years, said Cultural Survival. In 2007, the General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 2006, the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in 2008.
Both movements have been active on the rights of subgroups within their constituencies, and the Declaration and the Convention each include rights for Indigenous persons with disabilities, but historically these rights have not been adequately addressed by either movement.
The international indigenous peoples with disabilities movement has gained much visibility over the past three years, due in large part to global organizing efforts led by the U.S.-based Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF).
“We brought indigenous leaders with disabilities to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2012 and that’s where the seeds for this network began, when they started wanting to establish a global network to get more presence of disability rights issues at the Forum,” said Diana Samarasan, founding executive director of DRF and DRAF.
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