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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

20 September 2017

The Human Rights Council this afternoon 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. It also heard a presentation by a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations.

Presenting her report, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, noted that progress on indigenous issues was challenged by the roll-back on the rights of indigenous peoples to freely organize and strengthen their capabilities to assert and claim their rights. The Declaration was far from being implemented, and the lack of adequate data and indicators to measure progress in relation to the policies and measures adopted made it difficult to assess the adequacy of State initiatives. Indigenous peoples were among those who had contributed least to climate change but were suffering its worst impacts. She spoke about her country visits to Australia and the United States.

Albert Kwokwo Barume, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, presented a study on good practices and challenges, including discrimination in business and in access to financial services by indigenous peoples, as well as a report on the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He also presented the annual report of the Expert Mechanism to the Council. Encouraging Member States and indigenous peoples to engage actively with the Expert Mechanism under its amended mandate, he said it stood ready to provide technical advice regarding the development of domestic legislation and policies on indigenous rights.

Binota Dhamai, Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, said the Fund had played a key role in facilitating the drafting of the Declaration and in the efforts to enhance its implementation. The beneficiaries of the Fund were indigenous representatives who were victims of human rights abuses, indigenous human rights defenders and those who were actively promoting positive change in policies or actions of government or relevant non-state actors in the area of human rights.

Australia and the United States spoke as concerned countries. The Australian Human Rights Commission also took the floor.

In the interactive discussion, delegations underscored the importance of giving renewed attention to violations and abuses committed against indigenous peoples all over the world. Several delegations highlighted the particular vulnerability of indigenous people to climate change, noting that it could not be analysed separately from other social, political, economic and environmental threats that indigenous peoples currently faced. The panellists were quizzed on numerous issues arising in relations between indigenous peoples and States, being asked for instance how governments could best look after the health needs of indigenous peoples.

Speaking in the interactive discussion were the delegations of Finland on behalf of the Nordic countries, European Union, Australia also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, Russian Federation, Brazil, Venezuela, Estonia, Spain, Peru, Bolivia, United States, Mexico, Ukraine, Philippines, Iran, Hungary, Lithuania, Paraguay, Guatemala, Malaysia, Colombia, Fiji, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ecuador and Pakistan. International Development Law Organization also spoke.

The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Global Alliance of National Human Rights Associations, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund (in a joint statement), Franciscans International (in a joint statement), International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education (OIDEL) (in a joint statement), Amnesty International, Minority Rights Group, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Indian Council of South America, Conselho Indigenista Missionário CIMI, FIAN International e.V., Cultural Survival, Alsalam Foundation, World Barua Organization (WBO), African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, and Liberation.

Argentina, Brazil, and the Russian Federation spoke in right of reply.

The Council will next hold an interactive discussion with its Advisory Committee, before starting a general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms.

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples (A/HRC/36/46).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people - mission to the United States of America (A/HRC/36/46/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people - mission to Australia (A/HRC/36/46/Add.2).

The Council has before it the Good practices and challenges, including discrimination, in business and in access to financial services by indigenous peoples, in particular indigenous women and indigenous persons with disabilities - Study of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A/HRC/36/53).

The Council has before it the Good practices and lessons learned regarding efforts to achieve the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - Report of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A/HRC/36/56).

The Council has before it the Annual report on the work of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on its tenth session (A/HRC/36/57).

Presentations by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUS, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, outlined that 2017 marked the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the General Assembly. The resolution establishing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur specifically set out that the expert should promote the Declaration and international instruments relevant to the advancement of the rights of indigenous peoples. It was significant that national courts, including Supreme Courts and Constitutional Courts, had cited the Declaration as a source of law in their jurisprudence. At the international level, the Declaration had bolstered the focus that international human rights treaty bodies dedicated to indigenous rights. It was encouraging that the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals had set targets and indicators relevant for indigenous peoples and that the United Nations had adopted a system-wide Action Plan for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples last year. The Declaration had been a tool for empowerment of indigenous peoples who were getting better organized and equipped in their efforts to assert and claim their rights. This progress, however, was challenged by current obstacles, particularly the roll-back on the rights of indigenous peoples to freely organize and strengthen their capacities to assert and claim their rights. The criminalization and attacks against indigenous leaders and community members who spoke to defend their land rights was a serious challenge that needed to be addressed by the duty bearers.

The Declaration also remained far from being implemented. Among the challenges, Ms. Tauli-Corpus had observed that the failure by certain States to recognise indigenous peoples as such was an important barrier to the implementation of the Declaration in several parts of the world. The failure to comply with and implement decisions affirming the rights of indigenous peoples by the national judiciary remained a major concern. The denial of self-determination was a central causal factor in the prevalence of poverty among indigenous communities. Finally, the lack of adequate data and indicators to measure progress in relation to the policies and measures adopted made it difficult to assess the adequacy of State initiatives.

Concerning the particular issue of climate change, Ms. Tauli-Corpus outlined that indigenous peoples were among those who had least contributed to this problem. However, they were the ones suffering from its worst impacts. While indigenous peoples accounted for 5 per cent of the world’s population, they represented 15 per cent of those living in poverty. Estimates indicated that more than 100 million people across the world risked being forced into extreme poverty by 2030 due to climate change. Due to their close relationship with the environment, indigenous peoples were uniquely positioned to adapt to climate change. They could play an important role in stopping deforestation by land titling, forest management and conversation, and local governance strengthening.

Turning to her visit in Australia, Ms. Tauli-Corpus outlined that while the Government had adopted numerous policies to address the socio-economic disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, these policies did not duly respect the rights to self-determination and to full participation in society. Notably, these policies had failed to reach targets in the key areas of health, education and employment and had led to a growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being jailed, and in an escalation of children being removed from their homes. While they made up only 3 per cent of the total population, they constituted 27 per cent of the prison population.

As for the situation in the United States, the contemporary executive action that provided the most direct guidance on consultation with tribes, Executive Order 12175, was well intentioned but had developed into a confusing and disjointed framework that suffered from loopholes and a lack of accountability. Many indigenous peoples in the United States perceived a general lack of consideration of the future impacts on their lands in approving extractive industry projects in particular. In the context of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the potentially affected tribes were denied access to information and excluded from consultations at the planning stage of the project. In order to fully realize the rights of indigenous peoples, the federal state and local government should adopt consistent practices in consulting with tribes on projects that could affect indigenous rights.

The Special Rapporteur also noted that the issue of consultation and free, prior and informed consent had repeatedly risen in the context of cases brought to her attention through the communications procedure. As for future country visits, she was in the process of preparing an official country visit to Mexico in November 2017.

ALBERT KWOKWO BARUME, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, presented a study on good practices and challenges, including discrimination in business and in access to financial services by indigenous peoples, in particular indigenous women and persons with disabilities. He also presented a report entitled “Ten years of the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: good practices and lessons learned – 2007 and 2017,” as well as the annual report of the Expert Mechanism to the Council. The Expert Mechanism was working to operationalise its new mandate, and it looked forward to the involvement and support of Member States, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders in that endeavour.

Mr. Barume announced that the Expert Mechanism had finalised its methods of work and that submitting requests to the Expert Mechanism would be available online immediately after the Council’s session. He explained that the study provided a human rights-based analysis of indigenous peoples’ businesses, including an appreciation of indigenous peoples’ business and economies’ contribution to development. The study addressed some crucial questions regarding business and access to financial services that were particularly important to indigenous peoples. It shed light on the role of the State and financial institutions in facilitating indigenous peoples’ access to financial services. The study identified some of the main human rights-based structural obstacles and challenges that prevented indigenous peoples from unlocking their potential through business enterprises and equal access to financial markets with a view to enjoying their right to self-determined development, as guaranteed by the Declaration. Those included persistent prejudiced views of indigenous peoples’ business capacity, discrimination in accessing financial services, a lack of legal protection for rights over lands and resources, a lack of inclusive indigenous governance and leadership in business, and specific challenges facing indigenous women, youth and persons with disabilities.

Turning to the second report, Mr. Barume said that since the adoption of the Declaration by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007, it had been recognised as reflecting a global consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples. It was expected to guide realisation of indigenous rights at the country level. Yet information on its implementation had been anecdotal and sporadic. The report was an attempt to compile some of that information as a first step towards a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of the Declaration, with a view to providing end-users at the country level with an updated knowledge base on the Declaration. The report highlighted the main legal and policy trends in the past 10 years of the application of the Declaration. Many good practices could be replicated elsewhere. But there were also gaps between indigenous rights and their effective implementation. The Expert Mechanism’s new mandate also included assisting States and indigenous peoples with the implementation of the Declaration.

As for the Expert Mechanism’s activities in the past 10 years, Mr. Barume informed that an interactive dialogue with national human rights institutions and regional human rights mechanisms had been held. Its inter-sessional activities had been directed at enhancing cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Mr. Barume encouraged Member States and indigenous peoples to engage actively with the Expert Mechanism under its amended mandate. The Mechanism stood ready to provide technical advice regarding the development of domestic legislation and policies on indigenous rights. He reiterated that all the pieces of the Expert Mechanism were in place to make its mandate operational.

BINOTA DHAMAI, Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, recalled that the Voluntary Fund had played a key role in facilitating the drafting of the Declaration and in the efforts to enhance its implementation. Its mandate had been expanded seven times and it had supported the participation of over 2,000 indigenous women, men, youth, elders and indigenous persons with disabilities in human rights mechanisms and contributed to important developments on indigenous issues from the adoption of the Declaration to the implementation of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. By giving indigenous peoples a voice in United Nations meetings which directly affected their lives, the Fund contributed to increased international awareness of the rights, status and conditions of indigenous peoples worldwide. The beneficiaries of the Fund were indigenous representatives who were victims of human rights abuses, indigenous human rights defenders, and those who were actively promoting positive change in policies or actions of government or relevant non-state actors in the area of human rights. The Fund also allocated resources to build the capacity of indigenous peoples to make them truly effective participants in United Nations meetings. For example, the Fund organized rights training modules in Geneva and New York to increase the capacity of indigenous peoples’ representatives to effectively participate in human rights mechanisms.

This year, the Board had agreed on a cost plan of the Fund for 2017 with envisaged expenditure of approximately $555,000. So far, 49 indigenous representatives had been selected as grantees for the sixteenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues. Additionally, 30 indigenous grantees would receive support for representatives of indigenous communities and organizations to attend the sessions of the Human Rights Council and the treaty bodies that would take place from July 2017 to March 2018. Twenty-one grants would be given to representatives of indigenous organizations and institutions to attend the General Assembly Consultation Process aiming to enhance the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives in United Nations meetings on issues affecting them.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Australia, speaking as a concerned country, commended the Special Rapporteur for having consulted with indigenous Australians during the preparation of her report. Australia was working in partnership with indigenous Australians, and its programmes and policies were delivering better outcomes. The Government remained committed to supporting better results in key areas, such as health, education, employment and community safety and wellbeing. Australia was advancing the economic human rights of indigenous Australians with a dedicated policy to stimulate the indigenous business sector. It was also committed to address the drivers of indigenous incarceration, namely alcohol and substance abuse, and poor education. The federal and state governments in Australia were investing significant efforts to review their flagship programme “Closing the Gap”.

Australian Human Rights Commission, in a video message, shared the Special Rapporteur’s frustration that despite the clear and repeated recommendations made since her predecessor’s visit in 2009, many of them had not been implemented in practice in spite of Australia’s stated commitments. The Commission highlighted the Government’s failure to adequately support and meaningfully engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ voices, to support their right to self-determination and to ensure their full and effective participation in decision-making. Without their voice and without security of place in their own land, the empowerment of indigenous communities would remain out of reach.

United States, speaking as a concerned country, stated that it disagreed with some assertions and conclusions in the Special Rapporteur’s report. For example, it was not true that the United States’ Government’s framework for consultations with tribal leaders, including those on energy and infrastructure projects, had resulted in ad hoc application on an agency-by-agency basis and that it lacked accountability and effectiveness. The United States had a complex statutory and regulatory framework in place governing federal decisions on various aspects of energy and infrastructure projects. The United States also denied that dissent by indigenous persons was criminalised. While the First Amendment protected disagreement with Government policies, violent acts in response to Government policies were illegal and subject to lawful sanctions. The Government had acted to reduce the impact of climate change on indigenous communities.

Interactive Dialogue

Finland, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said renewed attention should be given to violations and abuses committed against indigenous peoples all over the world. The experts were asked for their assessment of the scope of intimidation and reprisals against indigenous peoples trying to cooperate with them. European Union said it would give priority to the discrimination and inequalities based on origin and identity, and actions taken to address threats to indigenous peoples in the context of land and natural resources. The experts were asked for best practices to address the health issues of indigenous peoples. Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said a lack of development did not excuse any State from its human rights obligations, and that Member States needed to overcome challenges so that indigenous peoples could enjoy their rights. The panellists were asked what support the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could provide to donors to address the human rights challenges specific to indigenous peoples in developing countries.

Russian Federation shared the view of experts on the need for States to adopt relevant legal frameworks, adding that the Russian Federation attached great importance to the issue of entrepreneurship and employment of indigenous peoples. Russian Federation had positive experience in that area, and was prepared to share it with all interested parties. Brazil said its national adaptation plan to climate change had been elaborated with the National Indian Foundation, and it had a dedicated chapter on the vulnerabilities of indigenous peoples. Climate change could not be analysed separately from other social, political, economic and environmental threats that indigenous peoples currently faced. Venezuela said the community of nations had to develop a human rights-based approach to climate change, as indigenous peoples were particularly vulnerable to this issue. The causes of climate change should be addressed. The international community needed to work together and deal with hurricane Irma’s effects.

Estonia highlighted the need for consultation with and participation of indigenous peoples in climate change mitigation processes. Estonia invited the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on possible recourses in the situation of disproportionate vulnerability of indigenous peoples to climate change, more specifically on its gendered impact. Spain welcomed the choice of the subjects of both reports which were vital for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Spain was working in close collaboration with indigenous peoples’ organizations to improve the participation of indigenous peoples in political and economic life. Peru regretted that the report of the Special Rapporteur was published only a few days ago and only in English. Peru had deployed efforts in order to improve the role played by indigenous peoples. Domestic legislation had been reformed with prior consultation of the indigenous peoples in order to ensure the achievement of their rights. Capacity-building efforts were also fostered by the Government.

Bolivia said that indigenous peoples had their own economies and methods of production, and there should be further investigation into their economic paradigms which were not always compatible with the liberal market approach. United States recognised that access to resources for tribal businesses contributed to prosperous and resilient tribal communities. In 2015, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Native American Affairs had provided $ 400,000 to create or expand start-up firms in Native American communities. Mexico welcomed the new composition and mandate of the Expert Mechanism and agreed that the Declaration had had an impact on legal developments with respect to indigenous issues. Indigenous communities were particularly vulnerable to climate change and they had to participate in all efforts to prepare and adapt to climate change.

Ukraine noted that the Crimean Tatars continued to suffer from systematic violations of their human rights by the Russian occupying authorities in Crimea. It fully supported the proposal of the Expert Mechanism to hold a half-day discussion on the protection of indigenous human rights defenders at the Council’s thirty-ninth session. Philippines welcomed the focus of the Special Rapporteur on the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples, who depended on ecosystems prone to the effects of climate change and extreme weather that increased disease risks, changed animal migration routes, and caused food insecurity. Iran highlighted the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to climate change which was why they should engage in all stages of climate change initiatives. Indigenous peoples with disabilities were some of the most disadvantaged people in the world, facing multiple forms of discrimination.

Hungary noted that access to financial institutions was a prerequisite to indigenous peoples’ achievement of their human rights. The Expert Mechanism was asked what could be done to raise the business activities of indigenous women. Lithuania drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to the rights of the indigenous people of Crimea, the Crimean Tatars, who were subject to continuing arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and discriminatory legislation by the Russian de facto authorities in Crimea. The Human Rights Council should give the necessary attention to the issue of the ongoing violations of the human rights of Crimean Tatars in their native land. Paraguay said the impact of climate change was very negative on indigenous communities, which was why policies were needed that included the participation of indigenous peoples. The aim of a forestry programme was to reduce deforestation and ensure sustainable management of forests.

International Development Law Organization said the organization worked to promote the rights of indigenous peoples, including by designing rule of law-based solutions to enhance indigenous peoples’ access to justice. The Special Rapporteur was asked how the international community could ensure an interactive exchange between various stakeholders, including indigenous people themselves. Guatemala underscored the importance of the traditional knowledge of indigenous people. As to business, there were mechanisms to support micro and small businesses, but it was still a challenge to bolster access to financial services. Malaysia said the country in recent years had faced an increased number of extreme weather events which had affected human rights gains and exacerbated vulnerabilities. Malaysia would continue engaging in inclusive dialogue and cooperation with indigenous peoples as rights holders.

Colombia stressed the importance of respecting the principle of free, prior and informed consultation of indigenous peoples in order to improve their autonomy in using natural resources on their lands. Coordinated efforts had been fostered in order to put an end to violence against children and encourage the participation of women in decision-making processes. Fiji, as a small island developing State, said it was faced with the reality of climate change and the rise of sea levels. As such, intelligent steps should be taken to adapt to the situation. The effect of climate change had a detrimental effect on all Fijians. The Fijian Government was committed to helping vulnerable communities adapt to natural disasters. Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stressed that Islam was a religion of peace that had advocated 1,400 years ago for the equality of human kind when the rest of the world was divided into factions. With these principles in mind, indigenous people had an equal role to play in nation building.

Ecuador welcomed the report which tackled the impact of climate change on indigenous people who had least contributed to the creation of this phenomenon but were negatively impacted by it. Indigenous peoples could not be seen only as victims of climate change but must also participate in combatting it. Pakistan said that its Constitution guaranteed fundamental rights for all without discrimination. Comprehensive law making was being carried out by State institutions both at the federal and provincial levels. The increase in the occurrence and intensity of natural disasters like floods and droughts had greatly hampered the efforts of developing countries to fight against poverty.

Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions recognized and stressed that all national human rights institutions were partners of indigenous peoples. It was important to maintain the interactive dialogue. Taking into account the importance of national human rights institutions for the dissemination of information, they had to help in implementing the Declaration. Conectas Direitos Humanossaid the Government had taken too long to demarcate the indigenous lands for the indigenous peoples near Sao Paolo. Additionally the budget had been cut, due to the austerity policy, which had a structural disproportionate negative impact on indigenous peoples. Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, in a joint statement with Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries, said the exploitation of natural resources in indigenous lands was ongoing. Throughout the Americas there was criminalization of peoples who protested against the usurpation of their ancestral lands, which was often done without free, full and prior informed consent.

Franciscans International, in a joint statement with Conselho Indigenista Missionário CIMI, said the Warao indigenous peoples in Venezuela and Brazil faced the spread of HIV/AIDS and were provided with insufficient medical care. Their space was precarious and conducive to the communicable diseases, and they suffered from disabilities. International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education (OIDEL), in a joint statement with Catholic International Education Office and Pax Romana (International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs and International Movement of Catholic Students), said this was the moment for the international community to go one step further and ensure bilingual education to guarantee the language teaching of indigenous peoples. All persons were entitled to education and training. Education was a cultural right. Amnesty International welcomed the report of the Special Rapporteur on her visit to Australia, which had highlighted the massive violations of indigenous children who, whilst imprisoned, had been tortured, hooded, gassed, held in solitary confinement, subject to forced strip searches, and been subjected to other degrading treatment. The Federal Government of Australia had to now listen and act, and work with States and Territories to ensure that indigenous children were protected.

Minority Rights Group said much remained to be done before there was full respect for the human rights of indigenous peoples around the world. The Kenyan Government had violated the African Charter in a land rights case, and the court recognized that many indigenous people had a key role in conserving and protecting their lands and natural resources. Asian Legal Resource Centre said Asia’s indigenous communities had faced abuses for the last 200 years, saying the largest impediment to realising indigenous rights in Asia was the failure of the justice institutions in the region. The Council was called on to undertake studies about the justice system deficits of the Asian region. Indian Council of South America expressed concern about people living in the Amazon basin and others, saying they were known for their respect for the environment in general. A national park in Bolivia was threatened by the building of a road, as such a project would destroy that area and involve planting the coca plant in a non-traditional area, leading to drug trafficking.

Conselho Indigenista Missionário CIMI underscored that the situation of the indigenous people of Brazil was threatened, and there was very little demarcation of indigenous land, though 90 per cent of it was in the Amazon region. Financial resources given to official indigenous organizations should be looked at. FIAN International said that in recent years, leaders of the Guarani indigenous people had come to the Council and spoken about relations with the Brazilian State. There were forced displacements and a year ago there were many murders, and the Human Rights Council was asked to take urgent action given the humanitarian crisis befalling the Guarani people.

Cultural Survival drew the attention of the Council to the issue of human trafficking, which had serious health consequences, including physical abuse and suicide. Cultural Survival called on the United Nations to set up a comprehensive inquiry using disaggregated data on the issue to address the lack of access to justice for women. It was necessary to expand trial prosecutions to cover cases of human trafficking. Alsalam Foundation drew the attention of the Council to the situation of the Bahraini indigenous people who had been marginalized in all sectors. More than 53 of the Shia Bahraini worship places had been destroyed and Shia clerics were regularly targeted by Bahrain’s authorities. World Barua Organization (WBO) said that the indigenous peoples of Assam had been faced with many violations of their rights. They were now becoming minorities in their own lands and territories and were negatively affected by the ongoing conflict situation, the militarisation of their lands by the Indian army, and the absence of prosecutions for perpetrators of human rights violations.

African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said that while indigenous peoples represented only about 6 per cent of the world’s population, they represented 90 per cent of the cultural diversity. In Pakistan, the plight of the Baloch indigenous tribes was sordid. Pakistani security agencies were involved in grave human rights violations. Liberation was concerned about the preparation of an oil exploration project by the Government of India in the state of Assam. This project was set up without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples. It would severely undermine the right to self-determination of the peoples of Assam. Liberation called on India to stop all projects of oil exploration and dams building.

Concluding Remarks

ALBERT KWOKWO BARUME, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, emphasised that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples would not be implemented unless policy makers at the country level internalised that instrument. That was the task that the Expert Mechanism was seeking to contribute to. Capacity building of recipient and donor countries was crucial for the implementation of indigenous rights. Most of the discrimination against indigenous peoples was a consequence of structural discrimination and negative views of the society. The indigenous business model had some particularities that mainstream businesses could learn from. The Declaration needed to be a home-grown debate, and country-based actors would have to own that instrument. There were countries in Africa that were taking the matter into their hands. Congo had recently established a Ministry for Indigenous Peoples. The reports on how the rights set out in the Declaration should be implemented were intended for countries. Mr. Barume, therefore, invited delegations to send the reports of the Expert Mechanism to their countries.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, thanked all those who had made remarks on her reports, and in particular the United States and Australia. Regarding approaches to addressing health issues, the United Nations Population Fund and the Pan American Health Organization, together with indigenous peoples, had developed great approaches to indigenous health and she hoped they would share these widely. The following year she would deal with indigenous peoples’ human rights defenders, especially those who had been penalized or imprisoned because they attempted to protect indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands. In conclusion, she emphasised the importance of indigenous people communities monitoring mechanisms. In this respect the Indigenous Navigator launched by the European Union was a great example.

Right of Reply

Argentina, speaking in a right of reply, firmly rejected the allegations made against it concerning the rights of the Mapuche people. A law had been adopted in 2016 suspending any possible removal of indigenous peoples from their lands. The relevant ministries were implementing policies to promote and protect indigenous rights. A service of legal assistance had been put in place for indigenous peoples. At the moment, there was not sufficient information to link the authorities to the disappearance of the Mapuche activist Mr. Santiago Maldonaldo.

Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, said that the process of demarcation of indigenous lands that was currently ongoing covered 13 per cent of the Brazilian territory. The Minister of Justice recently issued a decree recognizing an area occupied by 10 indigenous communities. Despite the serious economic recession, Brazil had managed to find a way. Reforms were under discussion, including on the rights of indigenous peoples. Despite necessary budgetary cuts, social programmes for indigenous peoples continued to receive necessary resources. As a result, there was a 20 per cent reduction of malaria in indigenous communities.

Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply, said it was forced to address the unfounded allegations of Ukraine. It asked Ukraine to focus on conclusions pertaining to issues internal to Ukraine, including study the conclusions of international monitoring mechanisms, including United Nations Observer Mission of Human Rights to Ukraine. Once issues were settled in their own country, then Ukraine could make critical comments against third countries. The Russian Federation reiterated that information regarding reports of human rights violations was verified through various line ministries and organs.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/17/138E