Report on the impact of COVID-19 on the rights of indigenous peoples

Closed 19 June 2020
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous Peoples
To inform the SR's report to be presented to the 75th session of the General Assembly, October 2020.

The report A/75/185 is available and will be presented on 12th October to the General Assembly.

Pursuant to resolution 42/20 of the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples dedicated his annual report to the General Assembly the impact of the COVID-19 on the rights of indigenous peoples. The report reviews existing initiatives undertaken by States, indigenous peoples and others to ensure that the rights and specific needs of indigenous peoples are considered and addressed in the fight against the pandemic. It also identifies protection gaps which require Member States and their partners’ attention.

The Special Rapporteur is concerned that COVID-19 has both highlighted and exacerbated current and ongoing human rights situations faced by many indigenous peoples. This report brings  critical concerns to the attention of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council for their consideration and action. Indigenous peoples are over-represented among the poor and suffer higher rates of malnutrition, combined with impacts of environmental contamination and in many cases, lack of access to adequate health care services as a consequence, many have reduced immune systems, respiratory conditions and other health conditions, rendering then particularly vulnerable to the spread of disease.

Curfews, lockdowns, quarantine and other imposed isolation measures imposed as a response to the pandemic may cause additional hardships for access to basic economic, cultural and social rights. Increased State security measures imposed during emergency situations as this may also directly impact indigenous communities.

Exceptional times should not exacerbate or justify impunity for violations of indigenous peoples’ rights. Human cultural diversity is a source of innovation for surviving crises such as pandemics; national and international responses to COVID-19 can benefit from indigenous traditional knowledge and practices.

The report presents examples of good practices, of indigenous participation and consultation in implementing solutions and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the vision and approaches of indigenous peoples.

Questionnaire for responses by States, indigenous peoples and other actors:

  • How does the State collect and analyse information on the impact of COVID-19 on indigenous peoples and individuals? Is disaggregated data on indigenous peoples, including health impacts, available?
  • Please provide information and specific examples showing the increased risks and/or disproportionate health impact of the pandemic on indigenous peoples. What measures have been taken to provide health care and other forms or urgent assistance for remote communities?
  • How are indigenous peoples supported in their own initiatives to fight the pandemic, protect health and provide assistance in their own communities? What lessons can be learnt from indigenous traditional practices and community-based programs in lock down and emergency?
  • How are indigenous peoples given the possibility to shape the national COVID-19 response to ensure it does not have discriminatory effect on their communities? Is their input sought and respected in the programs that could affect them?
  • How is information about COVID-19 and prevention measures disseminated in indigenous communities? Is such information available in indigenous languages?
  • Please provide examples of good practices and targeted measures to redress the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on indigenous peoples’ health. If these are being carried out by State, provincial and local governments, please explain how these measures were designed in consultation and implementing free prior and informed consent with the indigenous peoples concerned in order to ensure that such measures are adapted to the cultural and other specific needs of these indigenous communities.
  • Please provide information on the economic, social and cultural impact of lockdowns, quarantines, travel and other restriction of freedom of movement on indigenous communities. Please provide information on measures taken to ensure indigenous communities do not experience discriminatory impacts on their access to livelihoods, food and education. How are indigenous peoples taken into account in the development of assistance and relief programmes? Where are the gaps if any?
  • Please provide information on how indigenous women, older persons, children, persons with disabilities and LGBTI persons are or may be facing additional human rights challenges during the pandemic. Please provide information on targeted measures taken to prevent intersecting forms of discrimination, and ensure indigenous women, children, older persons, persons with disabilities and LGBTI persons’ access, protection and services with due regards to their specific needs within indigenous communities.
  • Please provide information on how States of emergency may contribute to threats or aggravate ongoing human rights violations against indigenous peoples, including with regards to the freedom of assembly and the protection of their traditional lands and resources. What measures have been taken to protect the lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples against invasions and land-grabbing by external actors during the pandemic?

Inputs received

The Special Rapporteur would like to thank all who contributed to the creation of this important compilation of resources. Note to submitting entities: Only submissions which have indicated consent for publication will appear on this page.

If you have a question regarding the posting of your submission, please write to with "Submission GA report" in the title until 14 November 2020.


Independent Institutions:

  • Bolivia – Defensoría del Pueblo
  • Colombia – Procuraduria General
  • Argentina – Defensoría del Pueblo de la Nación
  • Mexico – Comisíon Nacional de los Derechos Humanos

Indigenous organisations and Civil Society:

Intergovernmental Organisations:

Individual Contributions :