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.
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