The struggle for indigenous peoples’ rights has a long history at the international level. In 1970, the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities recommended a comprehensive study on discrimination against indigenous populations, which was undertaken by Mr. José R. Martínez Cobo from 1973-1983. The Working Group on Indigenous Populations, established in 1982, worked for many years to develop principles and a draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. The UN General Assembly finally adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in resolution 61/295 on 13 September 2007, which remains the most comprehensive international instrument on this topic. It establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and wellbeing of indigenous peoples and elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples. The UN system now has three key mechanisms and procedures specifically for indigenous peoples: (a) the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; (b) the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and (c) the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.In addition to UNDRIP, indigenous peoples’ rights are also recognised in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations (1989), the Organisation of American States (OAS) American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2016), and in the jurisprudence of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Inter American Commission and Court on Human Rights, and the African Commission and Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In contrast, although the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recognises local communities alongside indigenous peoples in Articles 8(j) and 10(c) on traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use of biodiversity, there is not yet any international instrument equivalent to UNDRIP for non-indigenous communities that have close relationships with and dependence upon their traditionally occupied territories. A recent report by Professor John Knox, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, acknowledged that States nevertheless have heightened obligations to protect such people under various grounds of international law, including as members of minorities and based on the principle of non-discrimination. This is also supported by jurisprudence of the Inter American Court and Commission and of CERD. The legal status of non-indigenous communities might be further clarified in the deliberations currently underway in the Human Rights Council’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on a UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
There is arguably a close relationship between appropriately recognising and supporting ICCAs, and implementing UNDRIP and realising a range of human rights (see Stevens, 2010). The ICCA Consortium and its Members are actively participating in a number of UN fora, mechanisms and procedures on indigenous peoples’ rights and human rights more broadly, promoting the central importance of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ collective rights and responsibilities and also seeking to monitor, halt and remedy human rights injustices in the conservation sector. Particular emphasis is placed on supporting members of indigenous peoples and local communities to represent themselves in such processes. Among other things, this has led to consideration of ICCAs in two recent reports of UN Special Rapporteurs, namely, Professor John Knox’s report on human rights and biodiversity (2017) and Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz’s report on the impacts of conservation measures on indigenous peoples’ rights (2016). This closely relates to work on Biodiversity Law and Conservation Policy.
On 5 March 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Mr. John H. Knox, presented the final report (A/HRC/37/59) of his mandate to the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, which identifies 16 framework principles on human rights and the environment, addresses the human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and looks ahead to the next steps in the evolving relationship between human rights and the environment.
According to Mr. John H. Knox, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, “No group is more vulnerable to environmental harm than children. More than 1.5 million children under the age of five lose their lives every year because of pollution and other avoidable environmental harms.
In March 2018, the UN Environment Programme (UN Environment) launched its new Environmental Defenders Policy, which proposes how it can promote greater protection for individuals and groups who are defending their environmental rights, and identifies solutions to mitigate the abuse of environmental rights.
UN Special Rapporteur report on human rights and the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (2017)
UN Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment: report to … Continue reading “UN Special Rapporteur report on human rights and the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (2017)”
A delegation of 20 people of the ICCA Consortium is in New York from the 14th to the 23rd of April to participate in … Continue reading “The ICCA Consortium at the UNPFII”
Recognising the Real Conflict? The Eldoret Dialogue on Human Rights and Conservation. A Personal Perspective
Over four intense days, representatives from communities, conservation, human rights and government engaged in a Global Dialogue on Human Rights and Biodiversity Conservation. Held … Continue reading “Recognising the Real Conflict? The Eldoret Dialogue on Human Rights and Conservation. A Personal Perspective”
The ICCA Consortium participated in the 6th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) held in Geneva, Switzerland from … Continue reading “ICCA Consortium at the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP VI)”
Meeting dates: 11-15 July 2011 Location: Palais des Nations, Geneva Continue reading
Guide: “Realizing Indigenous Women’s Rights: CEDAW and Indigenous Women” Helen Tugendhat & Eleanor Dictaan-Bang-oa, 2014 A guide to using the Convention on the Elimination … Continue reading “Realizing Indigenous Women’s Rights: CEDAW and Indigenous Women”
Guide: “Indigenous Women’s Rights and the African Human Rights System: A toolkit on mechanisms” Forest Peoples Programme, 2015 Also in French, see the link … Continue reading “Indigenous Women’s Rights and the African Human Rights System: A toolkit on mechanisms”
Guide: “Inter-American Human Rights System for Indigenous Women: A toolkit on mechanisms” Forest Peoples Programme, 2015 Andrea Galindo and Ellen-Rose Kambel, Valérie Couillard (Editor) … Continue reading “Inter-American Human Rights System for Indigenous Women: A toolkit on mechanisms”
Interesante proceso en Costa Rica: el país cuenta con un Mecanismo General de Consulta a Pueblos Indígenas, desarrollado bajo el estándar de “consulta sobre la consulta”, originado en recomendaciones de la Relatoría Especial sobre Pueblos Indígenas de la Organización Naciones Unidas.
Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, on achieving the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) –
Deadline: 17 March 2018
Call initiated by The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – Deadline: 16 March 2018
Expert Mechanism on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, on free, prior and informed consent – Deadline: 28 February, 2018