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The UN human rights system and indigenous peoples

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Title: The UN human rights system and indigenous peoples


1
The UN human rights system and indigenous peoples
Treaty and charter bodies
2
This presentation will cover
  • Charter bodies
  • Human Rights Council
  • Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous
    Peoples
  • Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human
    Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous
    people
  • Treaty bodies
  • Seven main UN human rights treaties that are of
    particular relevance for indigenous peoples

3
UN Human Rights system
  • The UN human rights system is composed
  • primarily of two kinds of bodies
  • Charter-based bodies, including the Human Rights
    Council and its subsidiary mechanisms and
    thematic mandate holder (e.g. the Expert
    Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human
    Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous
    People
  • Treaty bodies - created under the international
    human rights treaties and made up of independent
    experts mandated to monitor States parties'
    compliance with their treaty obligations.

4
Charter bodies The Human Rights Council (HRC)
and its subsidiary bodies/mechanisms
  • The HRC was established in 2006,
  • replacing the Human Rights Commission.
  • It is a subsidiary organ of the
  • General Assembly.

5
HRC Mandate
  • Promote human rights education and learning as
    well as advisory services, technical assistance
    and capacity-building
  • Serve as a forum for dialogue on thematic issues
    on all human rights
  • Make recommendations to the General Assembly for
    the further development of international law in
    the field of human rights
  • Promote the full implementation of human rights
    obligations undertaken by States and follow-up to
    the goals and commitments emanating from United
    Nations conferences and summits and
  • Undertake a Universal Periodic Review (UPR), of
    the fulfilment by each State of its human rights
    obligations and commitments.

6
Functioning Decision Making
  • Special Sessions
  • - These are meetings focusing on one specific
    and/or urgent human rights situation/violation.
    They are held in the same way as normal sessions.
  • - Members try to adopt resolution by consensus,
    if they cannot reach an agreement, they go to a
    vote.
  • Regular Sessions
  • - It has 3 sessions per year (total of 10 weeks)
  • - March (4 weeks)
  • - Member states have 5 minutes to speak,
    observers have 3 minutes.
  • Main action of the Council
  • Pass resolutions or decisions.
  • Create a special procedure, by mandating an
    expert or a group of experts to address human
    rights violations.

7
The HRC and indigenous peoples
  • The HRC
  • Adopted the Declaration on the Rights of
    Indigenous Peoples (before it was passed to the
    General Assembly)
  • Extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on
    the situation of human rights and fundamental
    freedoms of indigenous peoples
  • Created the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of
    Indigenous Peoples
  • Indigenous participation
  • Indigenous peoples organizations can attend the
    sessions of the Human Rights Council if their
    organizations have consultative status with
    ECOSOC or if they are accredited by such
    organizations.
  • They can also provide information through
    organizations that have ECOSOC status

8
The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples
  • Mandate
  • To provide the Human Rights Council with thematic
    expertise on the rights of indigenous peoples
    mainly through studies and research-based advice
  • To suggest proposals to the HRC for its
    consideration and approval and
  • To report annually to the HRC

9
Working Methodology
  • Five independent experts meet annually for up to
    five days.
  • Determines its own methods of work, but does not
    adopt resolutions or decisions.
  • Sessions are open to the participation of
    observers, such as States, UN agencies, NGOs and
    others.

10
The Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples
  • Established by the Commission on Human Rights in
    2001. Mandate renewed by the Human Rights Council
    in 2007.

Prof. S. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur -
2008-2011
11
Functions
  • To examine ways of overcoming obstacles to the
    protection of the human rights and fundamental
    freedoms of indigenous people and to identify,
    exchange and promote best practices
  • To gather, request, receive and exchange
    information and communications on alleged
    violations of human rights and fundamental
    freedoms of indigenous peoples
  • To formulate recommendations and proposals on
    appropriate measures and activities to prevent
    and remedy violations of the human rights and
    fundamental freedoms of indigenous people
  • To work in close cooperation with other special
    procedures and subsidiary organs of the Human
    Rights Council, relevant UN bodies, the treaty
    bodies, and human rights regional organizations

12
In the fulfilment of his mandate, the Special
Rapporteur
  • Presents annual reports on particular topics or
    situations of special importance
  • Undertakes country visits
  • Exchanges information with Governments concerning
    alleged violations of the rights of indigenous
    peoples
  • Undertakes activities to follow-up on the
    recommendations included in his reports

13
Communications
  • Urgent appeals
  • In cases of imminent danger of violations of the
    rights of indigenous individuals and communities
  • The intention is to ensure that the appropriate
    State authorities are informed as quickly as
    possible of the circumstances so that they can
    intervene or prevent human rights violations
  • Allegation letters
  • If violations have already occurred or the
    situation is of a less urgent character and the
    impact on the victim can no longer change.

14
ILOs Contribution to the work of the Special
Rapporteur
  • The ILO provides information on the situation of
    indigenous peoples in the countries that the
    Special Rapporteur visits, and on the various
    themes examined by the Rapporteur.
  • The ILO responds to specific country
    recommendations by the Special Rapporteur

15
Human Rights Treaties Treaty Bodies
  • There are seven major international human rights
    treaties that deal with civil and political
    rights, economic and social rights, racial
    discrimination, torture, gender discrimination,
    children's rights and migrant workers.
  • By ratifying the treaties, States subscribe to
    these standards and commit themselves to
    implementing the rights at the national level.
  • The treaty bodies are committees of independent
    experts that monitor implementation of the
    treaties by States parties.

16
HUMAN RIGHTS TREATIES AND THEIR SUPERVISORY
BODIES
HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY NAME OF SUPERVISORY BODY /TREATY BODIES
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) The Human Rights Committee (HRC)
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) The Committee Against Torture
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) The Committee on the Rights of the Child
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families Committee on Migrant Workers
17
Functions of the Committees
  • Consider the reports of states and issue
    Concluding Observations, which refer both to
    positive aspects of a State's implementation of
    the treaty and areas where further action needs
    to be taken
  • Consider individual complaints and
    communications. Depending on the treaty in
    question, this may be through the inquiry
    procedure, the examination of inter-state
    complaints and the examination of individual
    complaints.
  • General comments. Each of the treaty bodies
    publishes its interpretation of the provisions it
    monitors in the form of general comments (CERD
    and CEDAW use the term general
    recommendations).

18
The Treaty Bodies and the ILO
  • International labour standards and UN human
    rights treaties are complementary and
    mutually-reinforcing.
  • The Treaty Bodies take into account international
    labour standards and comments made by the ILOs
    supervisory bodies, often through reports and
    information provided by the ILO.
  • In some instances, the ratification of specific
    ILO Conventions has been recommended (e.g. ILO
    Convention No. 169 by CERD).
  • The ILO Committee of Experts follows the work of
    the treaty bodies and takes their comments into
    consideration, particularly in the areas of child
    labour, forced labour and discrimination.

19
Treaty Bodies Concluding Observations on
Indigenous Peoples in relation to ILO Convention
No. 169
  • General Comment on Article 27 of the ICCPR of the
    Human Rights Committee states that Culture
    manifests itself in many forms, including a
    particular way of life associated with the use of
    land resources, especially in the case of
    indigenous peoples. That right may include such
    traditional activities as fishing or hunting()
  • General Comment No. 23 of the Human Rights
    Committee stated that Indigenous communities
    must have effective participation in decisions
    that affect the community (...). And in some
    individual cases the Committee has also affirmed
    that when taking action that might infringe with
    indigenous peoples rights, states have to
    consult indigenous peoples
  • The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
    Rights (CESCR) in its concluding observations on
    Colombia (paragraph 33) urged the State party to
    ensure that indigenous peoples participate in
    decisions affecting their lives.
  • CERD in its General Comment XXIII pointed out
    that States have to ensure that members of
    indigenous peoples have equal rights in respect
    of effective participation in public life and
    that no decisions directly relating to their
    rights and interests are taken without their
    informed consent.
  • Numerous concluding observations of the treaty
    bodies, in particular the CERD, have addressed
    indigenous issues in specific countries and
    recommended the ratification of ILO Convention
    No. 169.
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