GENEVA (16 May 2013) - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya,has maintained a dialogue with the Government of Ecuador in which he urged the Government to adopt measures necessary to prevent further violence between the indigenous Tagaeri-Taromenane and Waorani peoples of the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, located in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
According to information received by the UN expert, several members of the Taromenane people were killed as the result of an assault carried out by Waorani people in March in the province of Orellana. During the attack, two Taromenane girls were also abducted. The assault took place after the death of two elderly Waorani on 5 March 2013, which was attributed to the Taromenane who live in isolation.
GENEVA (15 May 2013) - A group of United Nations experts said today that the establishment of truth and justice in Guatemala, as well as being fundamental elements for reparation for the victims, are essential to ensure the non-recurrence of the heinous crimes that characterized the civil war in the country, including enforced disappearance, arbitrary executions, rape and forced displacement of people.
"Justice is the best guarantee to prevent the recurrence of these crimes," stressed the UN experts after last Friday's court ruling that sentenced the former head of State José Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Geneva (13 May 2013) The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, issued a press release today urging the Nicaraguan Government to adopt measures to protect indigenous peoples in the Bosawás Reserve as well as to secure their land rights within the reserve.
"The lack of progress for effective measures to secure territorial rights of indigenous communities within the reserve can lead to an escalation of an already tense social situation due to the illegal entry of non-indigenous persons in the reserve," said Mr. Anaya.
On 2 May 2013, the Special Rapporteur participated in a roundtable discussion in London, United Kingdom,which brought together representatives of indigenous representatives, business enterprises, and non-governmental organizations to discuss issues related to consultation and free, prior and informed consent in relation to extractive activities. The discussion took place in the context of the launching ofa new study, "Making Free Prior and Informed Consent a Reality: Indigenous peoples and the Extractive Section", by Indigenous Peoples Links, Middlesex University School of Law, and the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility. During the roundtable, the Special Rapporteur presented updates on his thematic study on extractive industries operating in or near indigenous territories, and discussed international human rights standards related to principles of consultation and consent.
GENEVA (2 May 2013) Today the Special Rapporteur made public his report on the situation of indigenous peoples in Namibia. The report was developed on the basis of research and information gathered by the Special Rapporteur during an official visit to the country from 20 to 28 September 2012. In the report, the Special Rapporteur calls on the Government to "strengthen measures to ensure that minority indigenous peoples can survive with their cultures intact in the fullest sense, including in regard to their traditional lands, authorities, and languages."
The report notes innovative land restitution efforts and land management arrangements carried out by the Government while also highlighting under-representation of indigenous peoples that are ethnically distinct from the majority tribes of Namibia in decision-making at local and national levels, among other issues.
On 25 April 2013 the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples made a keynote speech at the conference, "The Right of Indigenous Peoples to Prior Consultation: The Role of the Ombudsmen in Latin America", which was convened by the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsmen, in Lima, Peru. The conference brought together the Ombudsmen and heads of national human rights institutions throughout Latin America, as wells as indigenous leaders and government officials from Peru.
On 5 and 6 April 2013, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples participated in an "Exchange Workshop on Indigenous Peoples' Rights Between the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights" in Banjul, the Gambia.
During the meeting, the Special Rapporteur presented his work in the African context and globally and exchanged information with the various mechanisms on common challenges and objectives for the promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples in their respective work areas. The workshop took place prior to the session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, which takes place from 9-23 April 2013.
On 21 and 22 March 2013, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples participated in an "Expert Focus Group Seminar on Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples" and a "High Level Meeting on Engagement and Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples", hosted by the World Bank. The meetings, which took place in Manila, Philippines, were carried out the context of the World Bank's review of its environmental and social safeguard policies, including its Operational Policy 4.10 on indigenous peoples, which apply to the Bank's lending for investments in specific projects.
In his statements at the meetings, the Special Rapporteur emphasized that the revised policy should be consistent with rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He further urged that the policies that apply to all the Bank's financial and technical assistance, and not just its investment lending, be reviewed to ensure consistency with the Declaration.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released the latest Joint Communications Report of Special Procedures Mandate Holder for communications sent between from 1 June and 30 November 2012 and replies received between 1 August 2012 and 31 January 2013. The report also includes replies received between 1 August 2012 and 31 January 2013, relating to communications sent by special procedures mandate holders before 1 June 2012. The report contains letters sent by the Special Rapporteur James Anaya and replies received from governments concerning cases of alleged violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples.
Cases examined by the Special Rapporteur reflected in the report are from Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Nepal, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Suriname, United States and Venezuela.
13 March 2013 - The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, finalized his two-day consultation with indigenous representatives from countries throughout the Asia region to gather information about key issues affecting their peoples.
Representatives provided oral and written information on various issues including lands, territories and resources with a focus on extractive industries; militarization and impact of national security measures of Governments; and self-determination and identity. Indigenous peoples from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar were represented at the consultation. The Special Rapporteur will be producing a report on the consultation, which will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2013. The consultation was organized and hosted by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and the Malaysia National Human Rights Institution, SUHAKAM.
Tucson (13 February 2013) – At the University of Arizona College of Law, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, engaged in a dialogue with indigenous leaders and experts to exchange ideas and comments on the findings contained in his report on the situation of indigenous peoples in the United States, which was published in August 2012. Among the issues discussed during the dialogue were the opportunities and challenges in the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples domestically; the need for further dissemination of the Declaration and the Special Rapporteur's report among indigenous peoples and general society; ongoing concerns over the protection of indigenous traditional lands and sacred sites; the implementation of the principles of consultation and free, prior and informed consent; and ways at achieving reconciliation.
See the United States country report here. See the web-cast of the dialogue here.
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, provided the keynote address at the Indigenous panel that opened the current session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee, which is part of the World Intellectual Property Organization, is meeting to discuss a draft instrument on intellectual property rights and the protection of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. In his statement, the Special Rapporteur examined how the concepts of state sovereignty and property, which have been central to discussions at the Intergovernmental Committee, relate to the rights of indigenous peoples.
He provided a historical background outlining how conventional concepts of state sovereignty and property rights were detrimental to indigenous peoples, and how recent developments in decision-making at the international level have led to new understandings of these concepts. The Special Rapporteur discussed the special relevance that these developments have for the rights of indigenous peoples to genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Finally, the Special Rapporteur commented on the draft instrument that is the subject of negotiations. See the full statement here. For information on the work of the Intergovernmental Committee click here.
GENEVA (8 January 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, urged the Government of Canada and Aboriginal leaders to undertake meaningful dialogue in light of First Nations protests and a month-long hunger strike by Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation.
"I am encouraged by reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to meet with First Nations Chiefs and leadership on 11 January 2013 to discuss issues related to Aboriginal and treaty rights as well as economic development," Mr. Anaya said. "Both the Government of Canada and First Nations representatives must take full advantage of this opportunity to rebuild relationships in a true spirit of good faith and partnership."
The announcement of the meeting followed weeks of protests carried out by Aboriginal leaders and activists within a movement referred to as 'Idle no more.'
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, together with members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples met in Guatemala from 19 to 22 December 2012 to discuss preparations for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, which will be convened by the UN General Assembly in 2014. The meeting included participation in ceremonies to mark the Oxlajuuj B'aqtun, the change of the era in the Maya calendar.
While in Guatemala, the Special Rapporteur also participated in a "National Forum on indigenous peoples and natural resources: perspectives for inclusive development" as well as in informal meetings with representatives of indigenous peoples and the private sector.
The Special Rapporteur gave the keynote address at the Commonwealth International Human Rights Day expert panel entitled "Strengthened Rights Protection for Indigenous Peoples", which was organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat to commemorate International Human Rights Day, on 10 December 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. In his statement, Professor Anaya emphasized that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples presents the way forward for engagement with indigenous peoples in a succession of steps in the process of shedding the legacies of colonization. He urged the Commonwealth to reflect on the Declaration with a view towards developing measures to implement its terms within Commonwealth countries.
The Commonwealth is an association of 54 countries that have historical links and that now work together in various areas of shared concern. See www.thecommonwealth.org
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, participated in the first Forum on Business and Human Rights on 4 and 5 December 2012, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Special Rapporteur spoke at a panel on business affecting indigenous peoples. In his statement, Professor Anaya emphasized that there is a "need for change in the current state of affairs if indigenous rights standards are to have a meaningful effect on State and corporate policies and action as they relate to indigenous peoples". He also provided an update on his ongoing study on the issue of extractive industries affecting indigenous peoples.
The Special Rapporteur presents his comments to a draft regulation on indigenous consultation and participation developed by the Government of Chile. In a meeting in Tucson, Arizona on 27 November, the Special Rapporteur discussed the draft regulation with a delegation of the Government of Chile.
TUCSON (13 November 2012) The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, met with representatives of business enterprises and other stakeholders to discuss issues related to natural resource extraction affecting indigenous peoples. The meeting, which took place in the context of the Special Rapporteur's ongoing study on the issue, consisted of several panels and break out sessions. These focused on, among other issues, company policies and practices related to indigenous peoples, case studies involving experiences with negotiations with indigenous communities, and ongoing challenges.
The meeting was hosted in collaboration with the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources at the University of Arizona and provided valuable input to the Special Rapporteur's report on the issue of extractive industries, which will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2013. This consultation complements numerous other consultations that the Special Rapporteur has been conducting with indigenous peoples around the world through his country visits and various meetings.
In his fourth annual report to the General Assembly, which will be presented to the Assembly's Third Committee on 22 October 2012 in New York, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples provides a summary of his activities over the past year. The report also discusses the need to harmonize the myriad of activities within the United Nations system that affect indigenous peoples and provides a review of specific UN processes and programs. The Special Rapporteur notes that the United Nations has done important work to promote the rights of indigenous peoples but that greater effort is needed to ensure that all actions within the UN system that affect indigenous peoples are in harmony with international standards, particularly those standards articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Geneva (12 October 2012) A group of United Nations independent experts, including the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, issued a press release today urging the Government of Guatemala to clarify the violent events that occurred on 4 October 2012 in the locality of Cumbre de Alaska, in the municipality of Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, Sololá that resulted in the death of 6 indigenous persons, as well as 33 indigenous community members and 13 members of the military being injured.
"We urge the Government of Guatemala to continue to impartially investigate the events that occurred in order to determine the responsibility of not only those that participated in carrying out the crimes, but also of those in the chain of command," said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, said today that indigenous communities in Namibia are demanding greater inclusion in decision-making at levels, increased educational opportunities and full recognition of traditional authorities representing minority communities.
"Like many other countries around the world that have experienced European colonization and waves of migration, indigenous groups that are in the minority in Namibia have suffered injustices in the past that leave them disadvantaged, to varying degrees, in the present," Mr. Anaya said at the end of his nine-day official visit to the country.
GENEVA (19 September 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, will visit Namibia from 20 to 28 September 2012, to examine the situation of indigenous peoples in that country. This will be the first mission to Namibia by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to report on the rights of the indigenous peoples.
"I will examine the situation of indigenous peoples in Namibia in, among others, the areas of lands and resources, development, and social and economic rights, in light of relevant international standards including those in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007 with an affirmative vote by Namibia," he said. The Special Rapporteur will carry out meetings with representatives of the Government of Namibia and with indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations, in the capital city Windhoek, as well as in the regions of Tsumkwe, West Caprivi, Okuakuejo, and Opuko.
GENEVA (11 September 2012) Today the Special Rapporteur made public his report on the situation of indigenous peoples in the United States. The report was developed on the basis of research and information gathered, including during the official visit to the country from 23 April to 4 May 2012. In the report, the Special Rapporteur calls on the United States authorities to adopt new measures "to advance toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples and address persistent deep-seated problems related to historical wrongs, failed policies of the past and continuing systematic barriers to the full realization of indigenous peoples' rights."
The report also stresses that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important impetus and guide for improving upon existing measures to address the concerns of indigenous peoples in the United States, and for developing new measures to advance towards reconciliation.