UN General Assembly

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] …

The Message Stick
Newsletter of the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, July/August 2013

This issue contains reports on: the highlights of UNPFII-12; the new UNPFII members appointed for the period 2014-2016; the Global Indigenous Preparatory Conference for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, held in June 2013 in Alta, Norway; the sixth session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; WIPO IGC-25; the thematic debate on inequality by the UN General Assembly; and the indigenous expert workshop on intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, held from 19-21 April 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. Download the newsletter [pdf] …

Global Indigenous Preparatory Conference for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
10-12 June 2013 (Alta, Norway)

Representatives of indigenous peoples from around the world meeting in Alta, Norway, issued a common position for the high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly, also known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to be held from 22-23 September 2014, at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Alta Outcome Document includes a set of recommendations around four overarching themes. On indigenous peoples’ lands, territories, resources, oceans and waters, it is recommended, among others, that States establish effective mechanisms through agreements reached with the indigenous peoples concerned to effectively implement indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over lands, waters and resources; that States affirm and recognize the right to the protection, preservation and restitution of sacred places, sites and cultural landscapes; and that States implement a comprehensive human rights and ecosystem-based approach into all climate change measures and initiatives recognizing and valuing indigenous world views, including knowledge systems and customary institutions. Regarding UN action for the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, the creation of a new UN body is recommended, with a mandate to promote, protect, monitor, review and report on the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples, to be established with the full, equal and effective participation of indigenous peoples. The World Heritage Committee, UNESCO and States are called to revise the World Heritage Convention operational guidelines to ensure the rights and territories of indigenous peoples are respected. Regarding implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, it is recommended that States develop processes to ensure that laws and policies at all levels comply with the Declaration and other international human rights standards, indigenous peoples’ institutions, conflict resolution processes and juridical systems are respected, and national human rights institutions develop specific programmes that focus upon implementation of the Declaration. Regarding indigenous peoples’ priorities for development, including the right to free, prior and informed consent, it is recommended that rights, culture and spiritual values be integrated into strategies that relate to development, including sustainable development goals and the post-2015 UN development agenda; and that States support indigenous peoples’ programmes to strengthen the capacity of indigenous youth, including on the transmission of traditional knowledge and languages. Read the UN press release … Download the Alta Outcome Document [pdf] …

Indigenous peoples meet in Arctic Norway to prepare 2014 UN conference
Nunatsiaqonline, 10 June 2013

ALTA, NORWAY: The Sámi Parliament of Norway is hosting the Global Indigenous Preparatory Conference for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (the Áltá 2013 conference), to be held in Áltá, Norway, from 8 – 13 June 2013. The Preparatory Conference is organized in cooperation with the Global Indigenous Coordination Group for the World Conference. The conference is expected to endorse the Alta declaration with recommendations for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), to be held from 23-24 September 2014, at the UN Headquarters, in New York. Read the article … Visit the WCIP 2014 webpage … Download the draft Alta declaration [pdf] …

The Indigenous World 2013
Cæcilie Mikkelsen (ed.)
International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), May 2013 | ISBN: 978-87-92786-33-3

This yearbook contains a comprehensive update on the current situation of indigenous peoples and their human rights, and provides an overview of the most important developments in international and regional processes during 2012. In 67 articles, indigenous and non-indigenous scholars and activists provide their insight and knowledge to the book with country reports covering most of the indigenous world, and updated information on international and regional processes relating to indigenous peoples. Download the book [pdf] …

Arctic Preparatory Meeting for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples 2014
23-24 October 2012 (Nuuk, Greenland)

In preparation for the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, representatives of Inuit and Sami peoples met and issued the Nuuk Declaration. In the declaration, they urge for action-oriented outcomes of the World Conference. They reaffirm that traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources are integral parts of indigenous peoples’ right to cultures, livelihoods and identities, and contribute to sustainable development in indigenous territories; emphasize that indigenous languages constitute core elements of their cultures; and call for establishing a voluntary international mechanism to receive and consider communications from indigenous peoples regarding violation of their rights to territories, lands and resources, and their right to self-determination, in order to achieve the UNDRIP’s objectives. The declaration then addresses: indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination; indigenous peoples’ rights to territories, lands, waters, resources and traditional livelihoods; extractive industries; an optional protocol to UNDRIP, to be developed by the UNPFII, outlining a proposed structure and mandate for an international mechanism tasked with overseeing the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, waters, coastal seas and other resources, and indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, based on communications submitted by States or by indigenous peoples; further measures for the implementation of rights of indigenous peoples; culture, language, education and health; indigenous peoples’ cross-border rights; and the UN system and international cooperation. Download the declaration [pdf] … Other preparatory meetings for the World Conference …

Preparing for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Indian Country Today Media Network, 26 March 2013

NEW YORK, USA: The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples will be held on 22-23 September 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York, and will consist of two days of plenary sessions and informal roundtable and panel discussions with whatever state governments are participating; any actual participation of indigenous peoples themselves will be at the invitation of states. A total of 200 indigenous participants from seven global regions will be invited. To prepare for the Conference, each of the seven regions are holding preparatory meetings to develop agendas which will then be shared at one meeting of all the regions in Alta, Norway in June 2013. The North American region, consisting of Canada and the United States, held its preparatory conference (called the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus, or NAIPC) from 1-3 March 2013, hosted by the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians in Southern California.  The bulk of the time was spent in Caucus among the hundred or so participants hammering out agenda items, choosing representatives for the Global Coordinating Committee (essentially the leadership of the seven regions) and determining delegates for the Norway meeting. Read the article …

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