May 20, 2009
Special Rapporteur says optimism for indigenous peoples’ better future animated by positive developments, but tempered by reality of ongoing struggles
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
5th Meeting (PM)
He Calls on Member States to Supply Information on Human Rights Violations Of Indigenous Persons, Endorse Declaration, Commit Aid for Governmental Reforms
As the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues continued its eighth annual session this afternoon, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, shed light on his recent efforts to redress their grievances over the deeply-rooted disregard for their values and land rights by Governments and corporations.
"This has been a year of continual challenges in my work, with my optimism for a better future for indigenous people animated by positive developments in many places, yet tempered by the reality of ongoing struggles and violations of indigenous peoples across the globe," Mr. Anaya said.
In the past year, he had received information about a wide range of alleged human rights violations against indigenous people ‑‑ from cases involving infringements of their right to free, prior and informed consent of the use of their land and its natural resources to violence or threats against their communities. He had visited Brazil, Nepal, Botswana and Chile to investigate the general human rights situation of indigenous peoples, and planned to do the same in the coming months in Colombia.
Mr. Anaya said he had counselled Ecuador's Constituent Assembly and Chilean officials on how to incorporate indigenous peoples' concerns into their respective Constitutions. He was also helping Suriname's Government draft a law on indigenous land and resources, as part of its implementation of the Inter-American Court of Human Right's judgement in the case of Saramaka versus Suriname ‑‑ an issue that provoked ire in a representative of the Organization of Indigenous People of Suriname, who claimed the land rights of his country's indigenous population were not being respected.
While those were positives steps, the challenges to build good practices to advance the indigenous rights agenda were great, he said. He called on Member States to respond to his requests for information on human rights violations, as well as to officially endorse the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as Australia's Government had done last month. He also implored them to make the requisite financial commitment to reform legal, administrative and programming frameworks to better address indigenous peoples' concerns and needs.
In a similar vein, Les Malezer, Rapporteur of the expert group meeting on article 42 of the Declaration, which had met in January, stressed the importance of the Declaration as an instrument to motivate States to comply with human rights standards. States should begin a national dialogue with indigenous peoples on human rights, using the Declaration as a guide, while national human rights institutions and indigenous peoples' institutions must be encouraged to fully respect and implement it.
Carlos Morales, Vice Chairperson of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a subsidiary body created by the Human Rights Council last year to provide it with special themes on indigenous peoples' rights, said the Expert Mechanism was preparing a study on lessons learned and challenges faced in implementing indigenous rights to education. In August, it would look at lessons learned in implementing the Declaration, as well as questions of adjudication, restitution and compensation for indigenous peoples.
Also speaking today were State members represented by observers from Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Finland, Greece, Norway, Denmark and Ecuador.
Forum members from Morocco, United States, Bolivia, Iran, Uganda and Spain also spoke.
Representatives of the following caucuses, umbrella organizations and indigenous groups also delivered statements: Global Women's Caucus; International Organization of Indigenous Resource Development; Central American Caucus; Federacion de Comunidades Indigenas Guaranies del Guarani; Asian Indigenous Women's Network; Parlamento Indigena de America; Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre; Pueblo Chiquitano, CIDOB; Latin America Women's Caucus; Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus; Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Cuenca Amazonia (COICA); and Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network.
A statement was also made by the Chief Technical Adviser of the Project to Promote ILO Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the International Labour Organization.
The Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 21 May. to continue its session.
Excerpted from: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MYAI-7S97ZN?OpenDocument