UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
James Anaya, schedules official US Visit
United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Professor James Anaya will conduct his first official country visit to the United States of America from April 23rd – May 4th, 2012. The focus of his visit will be to review implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in this country. He will also follow-up on information submitted for his current thematic study on the impact of extractive industries on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13th 2007 as “the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of Indigenous Peoples”. On December 16th, 2010, the United States, which had voted against its adoption along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand, became the last country to reverse its position and express support. The Declaration recognizes and affirms a range of rights for Indigenous Peoples. These include rights to traditional lands and natural resources, Treaties, sacred sites and cultural practices, redress and restitution, self-determination and free prior and informed consent. It also includes a number of provisions for States (countries) to implement and uphold these rights, in conjunction and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples.
During this country visit, Special Rapporteur Anaya will meet with various US officials and agencies to review their implementation of the Declaration’s provisions in their policies and practices. He will also collect information from Indigenous Peoples, Nations,Tribes and organizations through several events and site visits. Dates have been provisionally set for only one, at the University of Arizona in Tucson Arizona April 26th – 27th. Plans for up to 4 additional events in the East Coast, Midwest and Northwest are still under development. There will also be an opportunity for on-line and mail-in submissions.
The “UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People” was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2001 in response to a resolution presented by a group of Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, including the IITC. The Special Rapporteur’s mandate is to promote good practices for the implementation of international standards for the rights of Indigenous Peoples; report on the overall human rights situations of Indigenous Peoples in selected countries; address specific cases of alleged violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples; and conduct thematic studies on topics of special importance for the promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The mandate was renewed and its name changed to the “UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” by the Human Rights Council in 2010.