James Anaya




Special Rapporteur participates in brainstorming session in preparation for World Conference on Indigenous Peoples 2014 Print
17 January 2012

map-denmarkThe 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.

Special Rapporteur expresses concern over the dire social and economic conditions of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Canada Print
21 December 2011

canada-attawapiskatIn a public statement issued on 20 December 2011, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples expressed his concern regarding the reportedly dire social and economic conditions of the Attawapiskat First Nation, which seemingly exemplifies the conditions of many aboriginal communities in the country. According to information received, many of this First Nation's approximately 1,800 members live in unheated shacks or trailers, with no running water. This is particularly serious during the winter season where temperatures are as low as -28 Celsius. In a communication sent to the Canadian government, the Special Rapporteur requested information on the government's efforts in responding to the situation at Attawapiskat First Nation as well as in responding to concerns over unequal funding of First Nations communities, as compared to non-Aboriginal towns and cities, and the effects this has on the ability of First Nations to attend to the social and economic needs of their members.

Read Public Statement

Tags: Canada
A United Nations expert urged Argentina to strengthen its measures to protect the human rights of indigenous peoples Print
08 December 2011

2011-janaya-argentinaA United Nations expert urged Argentina to strengthen its measures to protect the human rights of indigenous peoples as well as their rights to land ownership and education, adding that a mechanism to establish dialogue between them and the Government is urgently needed.

“A central preoccupation expressed by indigenous leaders during my visit was the lack of judicial security over their land ownership rights and in particular the various problems and delays they face regarding their properties,” said UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous rights James Anaya after his 11-day visit to the country..

Many of the land disputes, Mr. Anaya noted, have occurred between indigenous groups and private companies – in particular excavating firms – which have been enabled by judicial authorities.

Read Public Statement (spanish only)

Tags: Argentina
First visit to Argentina by a UN expert on indigenous peoples Print
24 November 2011

argentinaGENEVA (24 November 2011) - The UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya will visit Argentina from 27 November to 7 December 2011 to discuss the general situation of the country's indigenous peoples, including issues such as their right to lands and natural resources.

"During my mission, I will analyze the situation of indigenous peoples, who are among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups worldwide," said Mr. Anaya upon announcing the first visit to Argentina by an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the rights of indigenous peoples.

Read more

Tags: Argentina
Special Rapporteur calls upon UNESCO to take decided action towards adoption of policy on indigenous peoples Print
10 November 2011

 unescoAt its headquarters in Paris, UNESCO launched its work developing a policy on indigenous peoples. At the launching event, entitled Knowledge Systems, Knowledge Diversity, Knowledge Societies: Towards a UNESCO Policy on Engaging with Indigenous Peoples, the Special Rapporteur welcomed UNESCO's efforts to develop a policy on engaging with indigenous peoples. He further emphasized that the future policy should guide UNESCO's programming so that it does not just avoid harm to indigenous peoples, but rather actively promotes indigenous peoples' rights.

The Special Rapporteur participated in the event together with the Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Myrna Cunningham, and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Vital Bambanze. During his two days at UNESCO's headquarters, the Special Rapporteur also met with the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, as well as with representatives of UNESCO programmes relevant to indigenous peoples, including UNESCO's Assistant Director Generals of Natural Sciences, Communications and Information, and Culture; and representatives of the World Heritage Centre and of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Section Division for Cultural Expressions and Heritage.

See UNESCO website

NGOs should put effort into building indigenous peoples’ negotiation capacities in face of extractive industries Print
31 October 2011

2011-10-31LONDON. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Prof. James Anaya called upon human rights defenders and indigenous rights advocates to put additional effort into enhancing the capacities of the peoples affected by extractive industry operations in or around their traditional territories.

The Special Rapporteur made this statement as part of his keynote speech at the Conference "A Dangerous Business: The human cost of advocating against environmental degradation and land rights violations," organized by the NGO Peace Brigade International (PBI) at the Senate House University of London, on 31 October 2011. On occasion of his participation at the conference, the Special Rapporteur is holding informal meetings with United Kingdom Government representatives, Members of Parliament, and civil society organizations, with a view to collecting information and views on official policies and legislation concerning the impact of UK-based transnational companies on indigenous peoples around the world.

The Special Rapporteur's participation at the conference 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, as signaled in his last report to the Human Rights Council.

Norway could lose its lead in the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights Print
28 October 2011
logo-oacnudhIn a public statement issued on 28 October, 2011, the Special Rapporteur warned that a proposal to repeal key laws and policies related to Sami people in Norway could "constitute an enormous setback for the recognition and protection of human rights in the country." He further stated that "Norway could cease to be the world leader it has become in the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples if the Norwegian National Parliament approves the proposal of one of the largest political parties in the country, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)." The proposal would repeal key laws and policies related to Sami people in the country. The Special Rapporteur urged the Norwegian Government, members of Parliament and the Norwegian people to strongly reject the proposal of the Progress Party, as well as any future proposals that may undermine the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Sami people in Norway.

Read Public Statement

Tags: Norway
In statement to General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur addresses the impacts of extractive industries on indigenous peoples Print
17 October 2011

onu-general assemblyOn 17 October 2011, the Special Rapporteur presented his third annual to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The Report provides a summary of the activities over the first three years of the Special Rapporteur's mandate. In his statement to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur addressed the topic of extractive industries, pointing out the negative and even catastrophic effect these activities have had on the rights of indigenous peoples, and the need to facilitate a common understanding among indigenous peoples, governments and private companies about key issues and applicable human rights standards in this context. He stated that this issue will be the major focus of his work during the next three years of his mandate.

See Statement to the General Assembly and Report Read UN News Centre Press Release.

Consultation process required in a climate of growing social tension in Bolivia Print
27 September 2011

 James AnayaThe Special Rapporteur, James Anaya, issued an urgent warning about the situation of growing social tensions in Bolivia generated by the march of about 1,500 indigenous people against the construction of a highway through the indigenous territory and national park Isiboro Secure (TIPNIS). The Special Rapporteur called for the initiation, as soon as possible, of a process of good faith consultation with the indigenous peoples affected, in order to find a peaceful solution to this situation and address the underlying problems related to the construction of the road through the TIPNIS reserve. In addition, the Special Rapporteur urged the Government of Bolivia to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of persons participating in the march, and to prevent, investigate and punish any acts that affect their lives or physical integrity.

See press release here [Spanish only].

Tags: Bolivia
Annual presentation to the Human Rights Council and interactive dialogue Print
21 September 2011

onu-sala-hrcOn 20 and 21 September 2011, the Special Rapporteur presented his fourth annual report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. In his report, the Special Rapporteur provided a brief overview of the work he has carried out over the past year, and offered some comments on his study on extractive industries operating in or near indigenous lands.

He also presented to the Human Rights Council reports on the situations of indigenous peoples in New Caledonia (France); the Republic of Congo; New Zealand; and the Sápmi region (traditional territory of the Sami people) in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Special Reports involving cases and situations in Guatemala, Suriname and Costa Rica were also presented.

Following the presentation of his report, the Rapporteur heard comments from representatives of governments, indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations present. See a video of the Special Rapporteur's presentation here.

See also the Rapporteur's statement here and a press release on the issue of extractive industries here.


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