In his recently released annual report to the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur provides a summary of his activities since his previous report to the Council (A/HRC/18/35), including his examination of the thematic issue of violence against indigenous women. He then reports on progress in his continuing study of issues relating to extractive industries operating on or near indigenous territories. The Special Rapporteur addresses issues that have arisen during his consultations over the past year with indigenous peoples, business enterprises, States and non-governmental organizations. In particular, he notes that a focus on the rights implicated in the context of a specific extractive or development projects is an indispensable starting point for discussions involving extractive industries operating in or near indigenous lands.
The Special Rapporteur travelled to Australia from 20 to 24 August 2012 as part of his ongoing study on the thematic issue of extractive industries affecting indigenous peoples. During his time in the country, the Special Rapporteur participated in Melbourne in a roundtable discussion entitled “First Peoples and Extractive Industries: Good Practices,” hosted by the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. The roundtable was attended by key representatives of indigenous peoples, extractive industries, and the Government. The Special Rapporteur also travelled to the city of Perth and the Pilbara region in Western Australia, where he learned about models for benefit-sharing and other arrangements under which mining affecting indigenous lands is taking place throughout the region. These examples of models will provide an invaluable contribution to the Special Rapporteur’s report on the issue of extractive industries.
22 August 2012. A United Nations independent expert today called on the United States Government and authorities in the state of South Dakota to start consultations with indigenous people on a land sale that will affect a site of spiritual significance to them.
Five tracts of land in the Black Hills area in South Dakota are scheduled to be auctioned on Saturday. The tracts lie within a site sacred to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples, known as Pe' Sla, said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
According to Mr. Anaya, the indigenous communities are concerned that the sale of the land will result in restrictions to their access and the use of Pe' Sla for ceremonial purposes. They are also concerned that it may lead to a road development project that would diminish the cultural and spiritual integrity of their sacred site.
SAN SALVADOR (17 August 2012) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, today urged the Government of El Salvador to adopt new measures to recover ancestral indigenous cultures and establish participatory mechanisms from their representative institutions within State decision making.
"The historical oppression of indigenous peoples and the suppression of their expression of identity have led to the large-scale loss of important aspects of this identity as well as many cultural and human aspects that it incorporates," said Mr. Anaya at the end of his mission to the country to evaluate the achievements and challenges of indigenous peoples, and in particular the Náhuas, Lencas, Pipiles and Kakawiras.
GENEVA (10 August 2012) - The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, will visit El Salvador from 13 to 17 August 2012.
"During my mission, I will analyze the situation of indigenous peoples, who are among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups worldwide," said Mr. Anaya. This will be the first visit to El Salvador by an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor the rights of indigenous peoples.
"I hope this visit will help to give visibility to the concerns of indigenous peoples in El Salvador, concerns that are often ignored by mainstream societies in which indigenous peoples live," the Special Rapporteur said.
Geneva (9 August 2012) The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, issued a public statement calling on the Government of Colombia to advance in the process of dialogue recently initiated with indigenous authorities in the northern part of the Department of Cauca to address the military presence in Nasa territory among other matters. He stressed the need for the process of dialogue to adhere to international standards regarding the rights indigenous peoples.
GENEVA. The UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples mark the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples (9 August 2012)
In light of this year's theme "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices", the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, have stressed the vital role that media can play in the respect for, and the promotion and protection of, indigenous peoples' rights.
During the Fifth Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (9-13 July 2012), Special Rapporteur James Anaya presented his annual statement in which he informed about his thematic work on the issue of extractive industries during the past year. The Special Rapporteur also made a statement during the inter-active dialogue on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples where he urged UN member States to renew their commitment to the standards contained in the Declaration and work in good faith towards its implementation. In addition, he held parallel meetings with representatives of indigenous peoples and organizations in order to discuss specific cases of allegations of human rights violations.
The Special Rapporteur has released his report on the situation of indigenous peoples in Argentina. The report is the result of the country visit conducted by the Special Rapporteur from 27 November to 7 December 2011. The report addresses the main concerns raised during the visit and presents a number of observations and recommendations. The main issues covered include the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and natural resources, extractive and commercial agricultural activities, access to justice, evictions of indigenous communities and social protest, and the social and economic conditions of indigenous peoples in Argentina, including in the areas of education, health, and development. The report notes, among its main conclusions that despite significant normative developments in the country, the State of Argentina, both at the federal and provincial levels, must prioritize and devote greater efforts to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples. See the report here (advanced unedited version, Spanish only).
The Special Rapporteur was in Jokkmokk, Sweden, on 18 and 19 June 2012, where he participated in conference on mining and other natural resource extraction in the Sápmi, the Sami territory that traverses the northern parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Russian Federation. The conference, which was organized by the Swedish Sami Association, provided the Special Rapporteur the opportunity to hear the concerns of Sami representatives, particularly with regard to the impacts of extractive industries on Sami reindeer herding, and to also hear the perspectives of government and industry representatives who were present. In a presentation at the conference, the Special Rapporteur emphasized the need for effective domestic legislation, along with corporate social responsibility policies, to protect indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of proposed or existing extractive activities.
15 June 2012. The latest Joint Communications Report of Special Procedures Mandate Holders has been released by Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Report covers communications sent between 1 December 2011 to 15 March 2012, and the replies received from Governments between 1 February 2012 and 15 May 2012. Several letters sent by the Special Rapporteur James Anaya and replies received from governments concerning cases of alleged human rights violations of indigenous peoples are included on the Report.
Cases examined by the Special Rapporteur that are reflected in the report are from Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Panama, and Philippines.
GENEVA (23 May 2012) – Two United Nations experts on food and indigenous peoples today urged South-East Asian states not to sideline the human rights of communities across the region who derive their livelihoods, traditions and ways of life directly from their natural environments.
“Governments must not be seduced by the promises of developers when assessing large-scale land acquisitions for export-led crops and agrofuel production,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, highlighting acute cases of competing land interests in South-East Asia, where agrofuel developments are rapidly expanding.
15 May 2012. During the Eleventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Special Rapporteur presented his annual statement providing an overview of his activities in the past year. These activities included coordinated work with the Permanent Forum and Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the promotion of indigenous rights, the examination of specific allegations of human rights violations, country visits and studies, as well as his current findings and ongoing work related to his thematic study of the impacts of extractive industries operating on or near indigenous peoples' territories. The Rapporteur concluded with his observations on the theme of the Permanent Forum's Eleventh Session with regards to the ongoing effects of the doctrine of discovery. See statement, here
During the Permanent Forum, he also made a statement on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, at a high level commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the adoption of that instrument, here.
James Anaya, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, has conducted the United Nations’ first-ever investigation into the plight of Native Americans living in the United States. Anaya’s recommendations include advising the U.S. to return some land to Native American tribes, including South Dakota’s Black Hills, home to the famous Mt. Rushmore monument. Anaya says such a move would be a step toward addressing systemic discrimination against Native Americans that continues to this day. "The indigenous peoples of this country ... suffer from poverty, poor health conditions, lack of attainment of formal education [and] social ills at rates that far exceed those of other segments of the American population," Anaya says. "These conditions are related to a history of wrongs that they have suffered.
The estimated 2.7 million Native Americans living in federally recognized tribal areas have to contend with problems like unemployment, alcoholism, sexual abuse, and suicide. Now a UN report is investigating the conditions of Native Americans in the U.S. Host Michel Martin speaks with S. James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples.
Washington / New York (4 May 2012) The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, today concluded his official visit to the United States of America, which was carried out from 23 April to 4 May. In completing his visit, the Special Rapporteur urged the United States to strengthen federal and state measures to address the significant issues affecting Native American, Alaska Native and Hawaiian peoples throughout in the country.
Special Rapporteur Anaya noted that "[c]ontinued and concerted measures are needed to develop new initiatives and reform existing ones, in consultation and in real partnership with indigenous peoples... with a goal towards strengthening indigenous peoples' own self-determination and decision-making over their affairs at all levels."
Mr. Anaya will provide detailed observations and recommendations regarding the visit in a report to the UN Human Rights Council at its forthcoming session.
Professor Anaya visited Madrid, Spain from 10 to 12 April 2012 to meet with representatives of the Government of Spain, members of Congress, Spanish business enterprises, and NGOs concerning the impact of Spanish-based transnational companies on the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. The Special Rapporteur collected information and views on programs and policies of the Government of Spain, as well as on the policies and actions of Spanish business enterprises, related to human rights and indigenous peoples.
The Special Rapporteur's visit to Madrid is part of his ongoing work concerning the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of extractive industry operations in or near their traditional territories, an issue that he examined in his last report to the Human Rights Council and that he will also examine in future reports to the Council.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released the Joint Communications Report of Special Procedures Mandate Holders for communications sent between from 1 June 2011 and 30 November 2011, and replies received from Governments between 1 August 2011 and 31 January 2012. The report contains several 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 Israel, Thailand, Malaysia, Peru, United States of America, Mexico, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Finland, Canada, Guatemala, Chile, Costa Rica, China, France, and Brazil. See the report here
San José – Upon completing a visit to Costa Rica, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, recognized as an important step a meeting between indigenous peoples and the Government regarding the Diquís hydroelectric project.
During his five-day visit, the Special Rapporteur visited several indigenous territories and met with representatives from several communities that would be affected by the construction of the large-scale dam. These indgenous communities included Boruca, China Kichá, Curre, Coto Brus, Ujarrás, Cabagra, Salitre and Térraba.
In a series of presentations in Lima, Peru and Brasilia, Brazil, Special Rapporteur James Anaya stressed the need for greater measures to ensure that indigenous peoples are able to set their own priorities for development. Professor Anaya referred in particular to procedures to consult with indigenous peoples about legislative and administrative decisions affecting them, especially regarding proposed extractive industry activities. Such procedures, he stressed, should involve genuine dialogue in which indigenous peoples’ own development priorities are at the forefront. Read more
[Geneva, February 13, 2012] The Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples welcomes the World Radio Day, which was established by a resolution during the 36th General Conference of UNESCO in 2011. In this first celebration of World Radio Day, the Special Rapporteur would like to emphasize the importance of community radio of the world's indigenous peoples.
Radio has been a fundamental means for indigenous peoples to maintain their languages and to exercise and defend their rights. As recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 16 "1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and access to all other non-indigenous media without discrimination. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that the media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. States, without prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately owned media to adequately reflect indigenous cultural diversity."
Kirkenes, Norway 9 February 2012. In a keynote speech delivered in Kirkenes, Norway, Professor Anaya underlined the key developments that have taken place in recent decades aimed at safeguarding the rights of indigenous peoples, while calling for a new model of development in which indigenous peoples have the opportunity to be genuine partners, especially in the context of natural resource extraction taking place in or near their traditional territories.
The Special Rapporteur's speech was delivered at a conference on "Indigenous peoples, corporations, and the environment," which was organized by the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples of the Barents Euro-Arctic Regional BEAR). The Working Group, a consultative body affiliated with the intergovernmental Berents Euro-Artic Council, is composed of representatives of the Nenet, Sami, and Veps peoples living in Barents region which spans across far northern parts of Finland, Norway, and the Russian Federation.
In a press release issued on 7 February 2012, the Special Rapporteur urged the Government of Panama and indigenous peoples to initiate a dialogue due to the situation of tension and violence following indigenous protests. In recent days, Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous representatives have blocked different points of the Inter-American highway in protest of proposed mining and hydroelectric activities on their territories. During these protests, there have been clashes with the police resulting in injuries, detentions and the death of one indigenous protester. Moreover, representatives of the Emberá and Wounaan and other indigenous peoples have made a public call denouncing the lack of legalization of their lands and stating they will begin demonstrations in solidarity with the Ngäbe-Buglé peoples.
The Special Rapporteur also urged the Government of Panama to take steps to ensure the safety and integrity of people participating in the protests, and to investigate and clarify the circumstances of the death of an indigenous protester and sanction those responsible.
(New York - 18-20 January, 2012) The Special Rapporteur discussed measures for combating violence against indigenous women and girls at the UN Permanent Forum-sponsored "International expert group meeting on combating violence against indigenous women and girls: Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" held in New York. The Special Rapporteur opened the three-day expert meeting with a presentation that emphasized a holistic approach to protecting and respecting human rights of indigenous women and girls in effectively combating violence against indigenous women. Such violence "cannot be addressed in isolation from the range of rights recognized for indigenous peoples in general," he stressed.
The brainstorming session, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark on 13 and 14 January 2012, was sponsored by the Government of Greenland, the Sami Parliament in Norway, and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. It provided an opportunity to discuss issues related to the participation of indigenous peoples in the World Conference as well as the substantive issues to be discussed during this high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly to take place in 2014.
In his opening remarks at the session, the Special Rapporteur emphasized that the World Conference provides an opportunity for 1) contributing to the development of measures for the direct participation of indigenous peoples in United Nations meetings; 2) advancing greater and more concerted efforts within the UN system to advance the rights of indigenous peoples; 3) promoting action at the national and local levels to secure the realization of indigenous peoples’ rights; and 4) celebrating indigenous peoples and their contributions worldwide. The meeting convened indigenous experts and representatives from around the world, as well as representatives from the two other United Nations mechanisms focused on indigenous issues: the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.