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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Special Rapporteur on Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Chairperson of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Present Reports
18 September 2013

The Human Rights Council this morning held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples.

James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples marked a historical moment of recognition of the existence of indigenous peoples who had suffered and in many ways continued to suffer widespread and systematic deprivation of their human rights.  Although encouraged by positive developments in many places, Mr. Anaya remained concerned about the reality of ongoing struggles and violations of indigenous peoples’ rights.

Chief Wilton Littlechild, Chairperson Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said the Mechanism continued to call for new procedures to better enable indigenous peoples to fully participate in the United Nations, and for boldness to move beyond the status quo and focus on remodeling the United Nations rules of admission in a way that best achieved just results in the most inclusive manner possible.

Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, said that the participation of indigenous peoples in United Nations mechanisms could make a strong contribution to the realization of their rights.  The uncertainty about contributions had impacted the Fund’s mandate and Mr. Pyagbara appealed to all Governments to consider supporting the very important work of the Fund.

Namibia and El Salvador spoke as concerned countries.

In the interactive discussion, speakers agreed with the Special Rapporteur that they should not assume that the interest of extractive industries and indigenous peoples were always at odds with each other and that consultations in good faith should take place with indigenous peoples on extractive activities that affected them.  Indigenous women possessed valuable traditional knowledge, also in relation to land and resources.  At the same time, they were among the most vulnerable to the effects of extractive industries, including loss of livelihoods.  It was therefore vital for them to be included in the decision-making in this field too.  Indigenous peoples had the right to actively express their opposition to extractive activities promoted by the State or businesses without fear of reprisals.  Balancing the need for development and the protection of indigenous rights required a comprehensive and holistic approach by all relevant stakeholders. 

Speaking in the discussion were Russia, European Union, Finland, Cuba on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Honduras, Estonia, Norway, Canada, Australia, Venezuela, Chile, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Peru, China, Republic of Congo, Thailand, Spain, United Nations Children’s Fund, Malaysia, New Zealand, Panama, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Paraguay, Indonesia, United States and Togo.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the Canadian Human Rights Commission made statements, as did the following non-governmental organizations: European Disability Forum, Indian Law Resource Centre, Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact, Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, International Indian Treaty Council, Foundation, for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action Aboriginal Corporation, Aliran, Saami Council, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities and Franciscans International.

At the beginning of the meeting, Luis Gallegos Chiriboga, Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, recalled that the Central African Republic had requested the Council to hold an interactive debate on the human rights situation in the country during the twenty-fourth session.  Bearing in mind that the request was made by the country concerned and that this was supported by the regional group to which it belonged, the Bureau felt that the request should be accommodated, provided that no Member State objected.  No State or Group of States had raised an issue on the request and so the Council agreed that the interactive dialogue would be held on Wednesday, 25 September 2013.

During its midday meeting, the Human Rights Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the Chairpersons of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, to be followed by a general debate on subsidiary bodies of the Council.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples on extractive industries and indigenous peoples (A/HRC/24/41); an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of indigenous peoples in Namibia (A/HRC/24/41/Add.1); an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of indigenous peoples in El Salvador (A/HRC/24/41/Add.2); an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur concerning consultations on the situation of indigenous peoples in Asia (A/HRC/24/41/Add.3); an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur concerning observations on communications (A/HRC/24/41/Add.4); and an index of reports of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, by theme and by region (A/HRC/24/41/Add.5).

The Council has before it the report of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on its sixth session (Geneva, 8-12 July 2013) (A/HRC/24/49).

The Council has before it the study of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples (A/HRC/24/50); and a corrigendum to the study of the Expert Mechanism (A/HRC/24/50/Corr.1).

Presentation of Reports

JAMES ANAYA, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007, at the start of his mandate, marked a historical moment of recognition of the existence of indigenous people who were characterised by distinct cultural identities, and who had suffered and in many ways continued to suffer, widespread and systematic deprivation of their human rights.  Since the start of his tenure as Special Rapporteur in 2008, Mr. Anaya had witnessed indigenous people striving to make the vision of the Declaration a reality, amid daunting challenges, and had also seen some progress to that end.  He had provided technical assistance for the implementation of consultative procedures with indigenous people in Chile and Peru, and judicial decision-making concerning indigenous people in Mexico.  He had provided advice to the World Bank Group and the World Intellectual Property Organization.  While it was apparent that important initiatives to advance indigenous peoples’ rights had been taken in many countries and at the international level, Mr. Anaya could only conclude that these initiatives were far from overcoming the obstacles and systematic barriers that indigenous peoples faced worldwide to the full and effective enjoyment of their rights as affirmed by the Declaration.

Since becoming Special Rapporteur, Mr. Anaya had entered into a communications procedure with States, the objective of which was to focus Governments and other actors on specific human rights issues and to engage in constructive dialogue conducive to resolving them.  The effectiveness of this depended on the Governments concerned.  It was a matter of regret that in many cases letters with information of recommendations had simply gone ignored.  The Special Rapporteur had undertaken 16 country visits during his tenure.  Since his last report to the Council, he had reported on El Salvador and Namibia, and was writing a report on Panama.  In El Salvador there had been moderate progress, while in Namibia indigenous people had expressed a desire for greater inclusion in the decision-making process.  As detailed in the 2011 report, indigenous people around the world had suffered negative, even devastating consequences from extractive industries.  There was a need for greater understanding by States and industry of the content and implications of indigenous peoples’ rights in this context.  Mr. Anaya’s final report to the Council on this topic sought to deepen understanding about the relevant international standards, including with regard to indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources, principles of consultation, and free, prior and informed consent.  Although encouraged by positive developments in many places, Mr. Anaya remained concerned about the reality of ongoing struggles and violations of indigenous peoples’ rights.  Throughout the remainder of his term as Special Rapporteur, which came to an end in a few months, Mr. Anaya said he would continue to do his utmost to contribute to practical solutions to these pressing problems.  

CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Chairperson Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said that the Expert Mechanism had undertaken a study on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, including truth and reconciliation processes.  The study outlined the right to access to justice as it applied to indigenous peoples’ contexts, including an analysis of its relationship to indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination, non-discrimination and culture.  It examined access to justice issues relevant to indigenous women, children, youth and persons with disabilities, as well as the value of truth and reconciliation processes in promoting indigenous peoples’ access to justice.  The study also identified barriers to access to justice and remedies to such barriers.  The study set out key areas for advancing the right of indigenous peoples to access to justice, and examined historical wrongs and their impact on access to justice.  The Expert Mechanism had also undertaken a questionnaire survey to seek the views of States and extended it to indigenous peoples on best practices with regard to possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The Expert Mechanism welcomed the decision of the General Assembly to continue its consideration of the ways and means of promoting the participation of representatives of indigenous peoples at meetings of the United Nations and other relevant United Nations meetings and processes on issues affecting indigenous peoples, on the basis of the rules of procedure of such bodies and existing United Nations procedural rules and regulations.   

The Mechanism continued to call for new procedures to better enable indigenous peoples to fully participate in the United Nations, and urged for boldness to move beyond the status quo and focus on remodeling the United Nations rules of admission in a way that best achieved just results in the most inclusive manner possible.  The Human Rights Council was also urged to emphasize the importance of the inclusion of indigenous peoples in all aspects of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, including the preparatory meetings, the outcome document, and at all Human Rights Council sessions including this one.  The Mechanism had continued to provide briefings to a number of human rights treaty bodies on its work and its intersessional activities had also been directed at enhancing cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  Members of the Mechanism had participated in other meetings in different regions, on topics of importance to advance the human rights of indigenous peoples.  The importance of consultation and continued dialogue between States and the Expert Mechanism in an open, transparent and constructive manner was highlighted.  It was also important that the Council took the proposals of the Expert Mechanism and indigenous peoples fully into account and that the proposed themes for studies were decided in consultation with the Expert Mechanism and indigenous peoples.  That the Expert Mechanism was given an opportunity to conclude focused and quality studies and that it was not stretched, given its limited resources, with multiple topics and requests was also important. 

LEGBORSI SARO PYAGBARA, Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, said that the Fund was created in 1985 to respond to the needs of indigenous peoples to participate in the work of the  United Nations.  The participation of indigenous peoples in mechanisms of the United Nations could make a strong contribution to the realization of their rights.  In 2012, the mandate of the Fund was expanded to include support for indigenous peoples to participate in the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.  Without the help of the Fund, many representatives of indigenous peoples would not be able to attend the sessions of the United Nations mechanisms addressing crucial issues for their daily lives.  The participation of indigenous peoples in human rights bodies, such as treaty-bodies and the Council, was crucial to the promotion and protection of their rights.  In 2013, the Board had awarded 70 grants for indigenous peoples’ representatives to attend sessions of various United Nations bodies.  The Fund was entirely funded by voluntary contributions and Mr. Pyagbara thanked countries that contributed to the Fund for the current biennium.  The increasing demands for financial support due to the expansion of the mandate of the Fund required substantial additional funding.  The uncertainty about contribution had impacted the Fund’s mandate.  The Fund played an essential role and responded to an increasing number of demands.  Mr. Pyagbara appealed to all Governments to consider supporting the very important work of the Fund.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Namibia, speaking as a concerned country, thanked the Special Rapporteur for his visit and said it had come at the right time.  The recommendations that had been made were well-noted and plans had been put in place to improve the living standards of the indigenous peoples under question.  Responding to specific points, some communities had been relocated but were provided with the means to establish a new community such as access to water, livestock and farming implements.  For example, San communities in the Zambezi Region had access to the Bwabwata conservation area with rights to manage natural resources and to promote tourism.  There were many other instances where indigenous communities were likewise being helped.  The Namibian constitution prohibited discrimination and all Namibians were encouraged to take part in decision-making: traditional authorities were recognised under the terms of a law.

El Salvador, speaking as a concerned country, said that there were a number of actions being undertaken by the Government to address the wrongs meted on indigenous peoples in El Salvador over many years.  El Salvador recognised that these actions were at an initial stage and that much more remained to be done.  The plans were, however, synonymous with the recommendations in the Special Rapporteur’s report.  Broad consultations with indigenous peoples were being carried out and laws that recognised their rights were being drafted.  This included taking into account the possible effects on indigenous peoples of extractive industries and hydroelectric plants.  The Legislative Assembly had approved the recognition of indigenous peoples in El Salvador and payments to them had formed a line item in the State budget.  El Salvador was on the right path toward consolidating a new life for its indigenous peoples.

Interactive Dialogue

Russian Federation noted the effects of extractive industries on indigenous peoples, and studied with interest the new trend of indigenous peoples themselves becoming entrepreneurs in their own interest when it came to resources on their ancestral lands.  This model had found favour in Russia.  The success of the upcoming Word Conference depended on following the modalities as laid out thus far.

European Union gave particular importance to the issue of corporate social responsibility and had a policy covering this.  As regard the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation on the forms and models for natural resource extraction within indigenous territories, could Mr. Anaya elaborate further on the promotion of business models that would be consistent with international standards and conducive to the fulfilment of indigenous peoples’ rights?

Finland welcomed the bringing up of the question of gender when referring to indigenous participation through representative institutions.  Indigenous women possessed valuable traditional knowledge, also in relation to land and resources.  At the same time, they were among the most vulnerable to the effects of extractive industries, including loss of livelihoods.  It was therefore vital for them to be included in the decision-making in this field, too.  In Finland, the Sami women were equally represented in the Sami Parliament and were thus included in decision-making.  

Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that it took note of what the Special Rapporteur stated in the sense that in many cases indigenous persons were open to dialogue on the extraction of natural resources, so long as this was done in a way that benefitted and respected their rights.  In recent years, extractive companies and States had incorporated a perspective of inclusion of human rights of indigenous peoples.  Technological progress had made it possible to diminish the environmental impact of extractive industries.

Honduras said that the Special Rapporteur stressed that one should not assume that the interests of extractive industries and indigenous persons were always at odds with each other.  Wide-ranging consultations with indigenous peoples should indeed be held.  It was essential to achieve agreement so that indigenous people could benefit while and after extractive activities took place in their communities.  Honduras was carrying out efforts to achieve respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. 

Estonia said that the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples were among the priorities of its human rights agenda.  Indigenous peoples had a special and close connection to their territories and human rights concerns relating to extractive industries were serious and should be taken into account by extractive industries.  Could the Special Rapporteur provide examples of good cooperation and mutual respect between the indigenous peoples and extractive industries?

Norway commended the Special Rapporteur’s work related to extractive industries and the rights of indigenous peoples.  Norway had a legal framework that aimed at securing the participation of Sami people in decision-making processes.  States had the duty to consult indigenous peoples in good faith and with the objective of achieving agreement or consent to the proposed measures.  Norway’s experience showed that consultations had enhanced awareness of Sami issues in Government and Parliament.

Canada said that the Special Rapporteur would visit the country in October.  In 2013, five pieces of legislation were adopted and brought real change and improvement for people in Canada’s Aboriginal and Northern communities.  Canada had increased its support to promote responsible resource development in Canada’s North.  The natural resources sector was an important contributor to global economic development and job creation.  Canada planned to enhance consultations with Aboriginal peoples for major projects.

Australia, thanking the Special Rapporteur for his work, said it was pleased its Aboriginal and Torres Strait justice commissioner had participated in the session of the Expert Mechanism.  A number of laws protected indigenous peoples’ land rights in Australia, and a national indigenous law and justice framework aimed to address the overrepresentation of indigenous people in the criminal justice system – a problem Mr. Anaya had identified as a concern for indigenous people globally.  How had other States tackled this issue?

Venezuela agreed with Mr. Anaya when he talked of the “devastating effects” on indigenous people as a result of extractive industries.  Examples of indigenous people administering their own land were instances of good practice.  Development projects and resource extraction on indigenous lands were to be encouraged as a means of promoting the indigenous peoples’ human rights.  The Human Rights Council should provide the necessary support to representatives of indigenous people in the run-up to the World Conference to ensure their full and effective participation.

Chile said that it appreciated efforts that had been made in addressing this sensitive issue.  Indeed it should not be assumed that the interest of extractive industries and indigenous peoples were always at odds with each other.  On indigenous people being able to demonstrate their opposition to extractive projects, States were obliged to respect and protect freedom of expression and only limit this in specific and concrete cases.  It was agreed that States should hold consultations in good faith with indigenous people on extractive activities that affected them.

Switzerland said that responsibility to respect internationally recognized human rights, including rights of indigenous peoples, was also incumbent upon businesses.  Indigenous peoples had the right to actively express their opposition to extractive activities promoted by the State or businesses without fear of reprisals.  The implementation of the Voluntary Principles of Security and Human Rights could be a very useful tool for businesses and States with a view to protecting human rights, including those of indigenous peoples.   

Sri Lanka said that it was home to the indigenous Vanniyaletto or Aadivasi people, who had inhabited the country from the Neolithic Age.  Despite challenges posed by modernization and development, the indigenous people of Sri Lanka had maintained their own identity, traditional knowledge, customs and way of life, and were recognized as citizens of the country.  All Sri Lankan citizens, including the indigenous community, were guaranteed equal access to justice through the constitutional provisions. 

Peru said that despite some negative aspects, extractive industries and indigenous peoples were not always at odds.  There were numerous examples of extractive companies that respected international standards and whose activities benefitted society as a whole.  It was important for States to adopt measures that allowed people to manifest their opposition peacefully.  Laws and regulations on the right to consultation were needed, as well as norms on the prevention and punishment of human rights violations of indigenous peoples.

China expressed its appreciation for the efforts made by the Special Rapporteur and the Expert Mechanism.  For historical reasons, indigenous peoples had become vulnerable groups in many countries.  The indigenous peoples’ environment had to be protected to ensure the realization of their rights.  China called on the international community to devote greater attention to issues related to indigenous peoples. 

Republic of Congo supported the initiative on a United Nations partnership with indigenous peoples.  The partnership made it possible to adopt various decrees that eased the application of the law on indigenous peoples.  The Congolese Government had organized an Expert meeting on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in the Republic of Congo in July 2013.  In recent years, progress had been made, including with regard to access to basic health services and the registration of indigenous children.

Thailand said the rights of indigenous peoples should be addressed in a holistic manner, taking into account all sets of rights equally.  Under the constitution, every Thai citizen was entitled to equal enjoyment of basic rights.  Thailand wished to state for the record that the Special Rapporteur’s reference to “indigenous people” in Thailand was not recognised under Thai law but equal rights were enjoyed by ethnic groups such as Karen, Hmong, Lahu and Mien.  The cultural identities and livelihoods of these groups were actively promoted. 

Spain said the question of the effect of the extractive industries on human rights was an important one, as was the issue of access to justice for indigenous peoples.  Spain had pushed the matter of indigenous peoples’ rights to the top of the international agenda, and had earmarked funding for the promotion and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Rigorous, sustainable self-development was paramount for indigenous people, and the activity of the extractive industries was not always in opposition to this.

United Nations Children's Fund was grateful to the Special Rapporteur for the attention he had paid to children’s rights during his mandate.  The extractive industries could negatively impact the well-being of children, particularly those that were forced to work in them.  A recent inter-agency study on violence against indigenous girls undertaken by the United Nations Children's Fund, among other United Nations bodies, had been shared with the Expert Mechanism within the context of its very timely study on indigenous peoples’ access to justice.

Malaysia said it continued to take measures to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples were further promoted and protected by widening their access to food, shelter, health, education and employment, among others.  Malaysia recognized the challenges faced by indigenous communities in the pursuit of development and modernity.  Balancing the need for development and the protection of indigenous rights required a comprehensive and holistic approach by all relevant stakeholders.

New Zealand said it was a country where the over-representation of Maori in the criminal justice system by both offenders and victims was a major concern.  To address this, the Government had a particular focus on reducing offending and re-offending and victimization among Maori people.  While more remained to be done, its approach involved several of the remedies highlighted by the study, including addressing the social, economic and cultural issues that were the underlying causes of these high rates.

Panama said it was committed to cooperating with Special Procedures of the United Nations and proof of this had been the Special Rapporteur’s visit to the country.  As part of the State’s indigenous policies, Panama had undertaken a number of important acknowledgements of human rights.  In September, its National Assembly had approved a draft law creating a Vice-Ministry for Indigenous Affairs, which would be responsible for the planning, direction and coordination of strategies for the indigenous communities of Panama. 

Sierra Leone welcomed the work of the Special Rapporteur and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, whose endeavours provided the Council, States and other interested actors with important thematic advice, studies and research regarding the rights of indigenous peoples.  Governments should take steps to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples were not violated by extractive industries.  Legal assistance should be provided to indigenous peoples.

South Africa was concerned by the activities of transnational corporations active in the extractive industries, which had adverse impacts on human rights.  South Africa had called for such corporations to be held accountable for human rights violations.  An international regulatory framework of a binding nature was needed in this regard.  To what extent were the indigenous peoples’ judicial systems recognised and what was their impact in ensuring access to remedies?

Paraguay said that free, prior and informed consent was the method which should be employed when States undertook any policies or actions that affected indigenous peoples, including with regard to extractive industries.  Extractive industries and indigenous peoples were not always at odds with each other.  Paraguay said that the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples had to be respected.

Indonesia took note of the observations of the Special Rapporteur that an important number of people in Asia could be considered as indigenous to the region.  Indonesia’s demographic composition remained unchanged since the time of colonization and each of the ethnic groups practiced their own particular and unique cultures, and most of them constituted customary Adat Community.  Indonesia continued to promote and protect traditional collective rights of the Adat Community, as established in the Constitution. 

United States said that Mr. Anaya’s observation that a preferred model that allowed indigenous peoples to control extractive operations within their territories was exemplified in the United States by the Southern Ute tribe which extracted oil and gas on their reservation.  The United States provided funding to support the environmental conservation of indigenous lands, for example, its Environmental Protection Agency had worked with the Navajo Nation to clean up uranium mines on its land. 

Togo noted with regret the intensification of extractive activities with dramatic consequences for indigenous peoples.  It was important to reverse historical trends.  Togo endorsed the proposal on capacity building for indigenous peoples and the provision of support.  Togo had carried out consultations and promoted participation in decision making with the view to ensure the sustainable development of the mining sector, including combating poverty and the protection of the environment. 

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, in a video message, said it had concluded its first ever national inquiry, which focused on land rights of indigenous peoples in Malaysia.  It called on the Government to give serious and urgent consideration to the recommendations put forth in the report with a view to adopting and implementing them.

Canada Human Rights Commission said that it supported Canada’s National Plan of Action, including the establishment of an independent and inclusive inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous girls.  Many inequalities could be traced to legislation affecting indigenous peoples. 

European Disability Forum said that to a great extent, indigenous persons with disabilities had been invisible in the work of the various United Nations entities that dealt with the human rights of indigenous people.  The right to self-determination had to be at the focus of any policy that sought to protect the rights of indigenous peoples with disabilities.

Indian Law Resource Centre said that the Alta document should be considered when drafting the outcome document of the 2014 World Conference on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The full and effective participation of indigenous peoples demanded that all representatives could participate and be heard, including those who did not participate in the Alta preparatory process.

Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact said that the Special Rapporteur’s report reflected the realities, issues and challenges faced by the indigenous peoples in Asia.  The non-recognition of indigenous peoples as distinct peoples with collective rights by States was a key issue faced by indigenous peoples.  The Council should give due consideration to the recommendations of the Expert Mechanism.

Permanent Assembly for Human Rights said that the violations of the right to land of indigenous peoples were concerning.  Evictions of indigenous communities continued in Argentina and the right to consultation was not respected.  Indigenous peoples were seen as a private entity, such as an association or a company, which was not in line with international standards.  The Government should prevent evictions and human rights violations.

International Indian Treaty Council expressed strong support for the continuation for another year of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism to build on its excellent work.  Access to justice for the indigenous peoples of Guatemala was a glimmer of hope when the first trial for genocide produced the conviction of retired General Jose Efrain Rios Montt, and they hoped that the overturn of this conviction would not bring about a return to impunity.

Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action Aboriginal Corporation, in a joint statement, recalled the role of the United Nations in the protection of indigenous peoples and welcomed the efforts of the Council.  They hoped that the high-level General Assembly meeting on indigenous peoples would also continue to promote positive results and called upon Australia to respond to the report of the Special Rapporteur through the relevant mechanisms.

Aliran indicated that discrimination against indigenous peoples continued unabated in Malaysia and the Government had still not ratified International Labour Organization Convention 169.  Of particular concern was the situation of the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak, where indigenous peoples faced forced displacement and loss of livelihoods as a result of large extractive industries and plans for the construction of hydroelectric plants.

Saami Council said that there was currently a mining boom in the Sami areas.   Nordic States had to fulfil their obligations under international law, and revise their mining and other extractive industry legislation in order to respect the Sami reindeer herding communities’ right to say no to industrial projects in their respective territories. 

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities said that the Human Rights Council had to implement the recommendations of the Independent Expert on a democratic and equitable international order and had to allow for a workshop on the right to self-determination, which it believed to be connected to indigenous peoples. 

Franciscans International said Brazil was implementing policies and promoting legislative reforms related to the development model dependent on the industrial extraction of natural resources, with a devastating impact on the rights of indigenous peoples.  The Council and the United Nations special procedures were urged to closely follow the conflicts related to the rights of indigenous people in Brazil.

Concluding Remarks

JAMES ANAYA, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, thanked all speakers for their comments.  He underlined that Namibia was overall in agreement with his recommendations but noted an ongoing problem in Namibia with regard to access for indigenous peoples to land in National Parks and conservation areas.  Mr. Anaya reiterated his recommendation to El Salvador to take the final steps for the ratification of International Labour Organization Convention no.108.  Concerning the Asian region, it was noted that a trend existed within Governments of the region to recognize indigenous communities as indigenous peoples, which potentially opened up greater opportunities of dialogue between indigenous communities’ representatives and Governments.  He mentioned the great number of comments received on the study on extractive industries.  Mr. Anaya would touch upon additional issues related to extractive industries during a side-event this afternoon.

CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, thanked delegations for their support for the Expert Mechanism.  Concerning the issues of participation, gender, justice and decision making processes in the context of extractive industries, Mr. Littlechild recalled the conference room paper and report of the Expert Mechanism, which pointed out that extractive industries had unique impacts on women and girls and participation and consideration of this problem by indigenous communities was important.  Responding to questions about violence and successful mechanisms in other States, Mr. Littlechild noted the consideration of culturally relevant practices, for example, in courts.  New Zealand provided some examples in this regard.  Preference should be given to methods of rehabilitation other than prisons.  Canada had included the gradual principle to address the over-representation of indigenous people in custody, promoting attention to unique characteristics in the determination of sentences.  Peru’s penal code included a number of provisions to consider indigenous peoples’ cultural rights.  The Expert Mechanism would like to look into this further and this reflected the need for further study.  Finally, Mr. Littlechild highlighted the Expert Mechanism’s reference to the fourth theme and the call for participation, and thanked the Special Rapporteur for his outstanding work.  


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/110E