Human Rights Council Discusses Rights Of Indigenous Peoples And Human Rights Bodies And Mechanisms
Human Rights Council
28 September 2009
The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard presentations of the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, and of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which were followed by an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur and a general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms respectively.James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, presenting his reports, said the main report highlighted his efforts to coordinate his work with other United Nations mechanisms and with relevant regional institutions. It also included a part to the major issue of the duty of States to consult with indigenous peoples on matters affecting them. Within the terms of his mandate, he had engaged in a range of activities to monitor the human rights conditions of indigenous peoples worldwide to promote steps to improve those conditions. The activities he had carried out fell within a number of interrelated areas of work: promoting good practices; thematic studies; country reports; and responding to cases of alleged human rights violations. In connection with promoting good practices he had worked to advance legal, administrative, and programmatic reforms at the domestic level to implement the standards of the United Nations Declaration on the <rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant international instruments.
Speaking as concerned countries on the Special Rapporteur's reports were Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Nepal, Panama and Peru.
In the interactive debate on the report of the Special Rapporteur, speakers noted, among other issues, that Governments should ensure that there was a greater climate of trust, and a social dialogue between the Government and civil society, including indigenous peoples, to find agreed solutions and mechanisms to work together in the fight against violence and impunity. Speakers also commended and supported the particular emphasis the Special Rapporteur placed on developing a regular cooperative dialogue with all relevant actors. The work of the Special Rapporteur, in cooperation with the United Nations Forum on Indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, would help in the future to consolidate the rights of indigenous peoples, without duplication of work. It was important to coordinate between the mechanisms and mandates of the United Nations system for the protection and promotion of the human rights of indigenous peoples, and to highlight the climate of cooperation between them, as well as between all, including States and civil society, working for the rights of these communities, in particular with regards to good practices and collective participation.
Jannie Lasimbang, Chairperson of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, presenting the report of the second session, said the thematic focus of the session was guided by resolutions 6/36 and 9/7 of the Human Rights Council; the two main items were the presentation of and discussion on the draft report on the study on lessons learned and challenges to achieve the implementation of the right of indigenous peoples to education, and the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the regional and national levels. The debate revealed that indigenous peoples were still facing serious problems as a result of continued denial of their rights and freedoms, including serious human rights violations. Many stressed that it was extremely important to focus on reconciliation as an important precondition for making the Declaration a reality on the ground. The Expert Mechanism was very encouraged by positive responses from States and indigenous peoples alike to its work, and looked forward to building its work on this spirit of dialogue and cooperation, as it was only through common efforts and constructive dialogue that true progress could be made towards the common goal of ensuring full implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples.
In the general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, speakers said, among other things, that national human rights institutions had a crucial role to play in promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, and encouraged States to ensure that they had strong national human rights institutions established according to the Paris Principles that could effectively protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples. They were encouraged to develop and strengthen their activities to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples. Special Procedures and the mandate holders had a core function in regard to the Council's mission to ensure the effective enjoyment of human rights by all; their independence had to be respected in all cases, and it was important that they had the possibility to act and inform the Council on human rights violations. Several speakers also supported the recommendation of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that the international community synchronise indigenous-related reports from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur, and the Expert Mechanism, so as to facilitate the participation of representatives of indigenous peoples, and to strengthen cooperation among these mechanisms.
Speaking in the discussions were Sweden on behalf of the European Union, Australia, Columbia, Norway, New Zealand, Ecuador, Denmark, Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, Brazil, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, United States, Finland, Morocco, Russian Federation, Senegal, Japan, and Latvia on behalf of fifty-four countries.
National Human Rights Institutions speaking were the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines, and Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l'Homme du Maroc. NGOs taking the floor included the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Colombian Commission of Jurists, Conectas Dereitos Humanos, Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, American Association of Jurists, Indigenous World Association, Saami Council, and International Organization of Indigenous Resource Development.
The Council will continue its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms after it concludes its discussions on human rights situations in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.
When the Council meets at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 29 September, it will discuss follow-up to the ninth Special Session and the presentation of the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.