OHCHR


UN expert on cultural rights calls for more space for people to express themselves in Viet Nam
OHCHR release, 29 November 2013

HANOI, VIET NAM: The UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, called on the Government of Viet Nam “to expand the space for people to articulate their views and to ensure they can contribute their knowledge, including their traditional knowledge, to the development of the country.” The Special Rapporteur also urged the Vietnamese Government “to significantly increase its efforts to map and mitigate the negative effects of development schemes so that the country can fully benefit from the strength of the varied cultures of its peoples to promote sustainable development.” “Measures are needed to ensure that the people whose cultural heritage is being used to promote tourism are empowered to manage these activities to their best advantage,” Ms. Shaheed said, adding that “people should not be obliged to perform rather than live their own cultures.” Read the release …

2014 Senior Indigenous Fellow
OHCHR Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section, November 2013

The Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section (IPMS) of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is seeking an indigenous person to fill the position of “Senior Fellow” for a duration of four months (2 June – 30 September 2014). The candidate must be indigenous, and have: a university degree preferably in law, political sciences, international relations or any other disciplines related to human rights; basic understanding of international human rights instruments and mechanisms; and minimum of four years of working experience in the field of indigenous peoples’ rights. S/he should be fluent in English, while other language skills including Spanish, French or Russian are highly desirable. The candidate selected will not receive a salary but will be entitled to a monthly stipend that will cover basic living expenses in Geneva, as well as return ticket and basic health insurance. Interested candidates should submit their applications by fax (+41 22 917 90 08) with a cover letter indicating “Application to the 2014 Senior Indigenous Fellowship” or by post at: Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland. Scanned applications can also be sent to: fellowship(at)ohchr.org. The deadline is 17 January 2014. Download the call [doc] … Further information on the OHCHR fellowship programme …

24th regular session of the Human Rights Council
9-27 September 2013 (Geneva, Switzerland)

At its 24th session, the Human Rights Council adopted two resolutions of relevance to indigenous peoples. In A/HRC/24/L.21, it decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples for a period of three years on the same terms as provided in its resolution 15/14. In A/HRC/24/L.22, among other issue, the Human Rights Council requests the Expert Mechanism to continue its study on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, with a focus on restorative justice and indigenous juridical systems, particularly as they relate to achieving peace and reconciliation, including an examination of access to justice related to indigenous women, children and youth and persons with disabilities; prepare a study on promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in natural disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives, including consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned in elaboration of national plans for natural disaster risk reduction; and continue to undertake the questionnaire survey to seek the views of States and indigenous peoples on best practices regarding possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies in order to attain the goals of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Council also recommended that the four themes identified in the outcome document of the Global Indigenous Preparatory Conference for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples held in June 2013, in Alta, Norway, be taken into account when considering the specific themes for the round tables and interactive panel for the World Conference. Visit the session’s website … Read the meeting’s resolutions and decisions …

Implementing Declaration on Indigenous Rights Will Be Difficult or Impossible Without Greater Awareness of Human Rights Values, Third Committee Told
UN release, 21 October 2013

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK: Addressing UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Third Committee discussions of social, humanitarian and cultural issues on 21 October 2013, James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, presented his final report and briefed Member States on activities undertaken during his time of service. He said he gave particular emphasis to building constructive dialogue between indigenous peoples and others, particularly on human rights issues and extractive industries operating in or near indigenous peoples’ territories. He expressed concern that UNDRIP is often seen as being non-binding and aspirational in nature, saying that “States should aspire to implement it.” UN representatives and several delegates stressed that greater awareness of human rights should underpin a renewed push for implementation. A message from Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Coordinator of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, called for greater attention to the situation of indigenous women, who face “triple discrimination” on the basis of their indigenous identity, gender and economic status.

Among the report’s recommendations, it is stated that there is an urgent need for greater awareness about the human rights values and concerns represented by UNDRIP and about the standards that are articulated in the Declaration to address those concerns; and that greater efforts must be put in place to achieve such broad awareness among governmental and other influential actors, the international system, and the general public. Read the release … Download the UN Special Rapporteur’s report (A/68/317)[pdf] …

More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous peoples’ rights
OHCHR press release, 29 October 2013

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK: “Indigenous peoples are among the groups most severely affected by the extractive, agro-industrial and energy sectors,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. Sulyandziga presented the UN Working Group’s first thematic report, which explores the challenges faced in addressing the adverse effects of business activities on indigenous peoples’ rights, to the UN General Assembly in New York. “Negative effects range from indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their chosen traditional way of life, with their distinct cultural identity, to discrimination in employment and in accessing goods and services,” the expert noted. “There are challenges involving land use and ownership, and also displacement through forced or economic resettlement. Such disruption often leads to serious abuses of civil and political rights, with human rights defenders in particular put at risk,” he said. “Indigenous peoples are also often excluded from agreements and decision-making processes that irrevocably affect their lives.” The Working Group’s report highlights how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can clarify the roles and responsibilities of States, business enterprises and indigenous peoples in addressing these problems. Read the press release … Download the Working Group’s report on human rights and transnational corporations and other business entities (doc A/68/279) [pdf] … Download the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights [pdf] …

UN Voluntary Fund on Indigenous Populations – Call for applications to attend UNPFII 13 and EMPRIP 7
UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, September 2013

The UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations gives indigenous peoples the opportunity to participate in the sessions of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), the Human Rights Council and the treaty bodies. The deadline to submit applications to attend the 13th session of the UNPFII, to be held from 12-23 May 2014, at the UN Headquarters in New York, and the 7th session of the EMRIP, to be held from 7-11 July 2014, in Geneva, Switzerland, is 1 November 2013. Download the application form [doc] … Further information on the Voluntary Fund … Download the OHCHR publication Human Rights Funds, Grants and Fellowships: A Practical Guide for Civil Society [pdf] …

Trust Fund on Indigenous Issues – 2014 Call for Proposals
PFII release, September 2013

The deadline for applications in response to the 2014 call for proposals is 1 November 2013. Applications are to be submitted to indigenousfund@un.org, or by post to the Permanent Forum Secretariat. Priority will be given to projects that focus on: culture (with a specific focus on indigenous languages); and the environment (with a specific focus on the principle of free, prior and informed consent). The proposals will be assessed by the Bureau of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May 2014 and successful applicants will receive notice thereafter. Projects may be submitted in English, French, Spanish or Russian. Further information … Download the guidelines [pdf] … Download the application form [doc, English] …

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: a Manual for National Human Rights Institutions
Andy Gargett et al, Asia Pacific Forum, OHCHR, August 2013 | ISBN: 978-0-9873578-7-8

This publication aims to further practical implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by promoting increased engagement by one key actor in ensuring that human rights, including indigenous peoples’ rights, become a reality: national human rights institutions. As examples contained in this publications show, national human rights institutions can play a crucial role in the protection and promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights. Through their legal status and mandate, they have the potential to be strong allies with, and advocates for, indigenous peoples. As conduits between the national, regional and international human rights spheres, national human rights institutions are uniquely placed to contribute to the genuine implementation of the Declaration and the progressive realization of the rights of indigenous peoples. The first part of the publication introduces the background and content of the Declaration, while the second and third parts focus on measures which national human rights institutions can take at the national and international level to protect and promote indigenous peoples’ rights. Download the manual [pdf] …

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2013
9 August 2013 (UN Headquarters and worldwide)

This year’s International Day theme was “Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.” The theme aims to highlight the importance of honouring agreements between States, their citizens and indigenous peoples, emphasizing the principles of friendship, co-operation and peace. A special programme of activities took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US. At the opening, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the post-2015 development agenda should incorporate the rights, perspectives and needs of indigenous peoples, who have made clear that they want development that takes into account culture and identity and the right to define their priorities. UN Assistant Secretary-General Shamshad Akhtar, on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, called on everyone to adopt a stronger level of commitment to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Paul Kanyinke Sena, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), stressed the need to address injustices of the past, especially in the post-colonial context of nation building, calling for greater efforts in Africa, and highlighting that honouring treaties, agreements and other arrangements allows for conflicting notions of territoriality, cultural practice and ideas of development to be reconciled for the greater common good. UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay noted that “even when signed or otherwise agreed more than a century ago, many treaties remain the cornerstone for the protection of the identity, land and customs of indigenous peoples, determining the relationship they have with the State.” CBD Executive Secretary Braulio de Souza Dias provided an overview of instruments developed under the Convention related to traditional knowledge, noting they will all contribute to the achievement of Aichi target 18 – that by 2020, the traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities and their customary use of biological resources are respected and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention, with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities.

Irina Bokova, Director-General, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that global sustainability must build on local foundations reflecting the views and needs of local communities, including indigenous peoples; and highlighted UNESCO’s leadership of inter-agency work to include indigenous knowledge in the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). WIPO Director General Francis Gurry stressed that indigenous peoples and local communities have a direct stake in the negotiations underway at WIPO with the objective of reaching agreement on an international legal instrument/s which will ensure the effective protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya stressed that the right of indigenous peoples to recognition and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constrictive arrangements is a key right recognized in UNDRIP. The International Land Coalition affirmed the role of indigenous peoples as custodians of land, water and biodiversity, and highlighted the 2013 Antigua Declaration, which expresses concern over land grabbing and criminalization of customary forms of land and resource use. Visit the Day’s webpage, including links to programme and statements …

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