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.
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)”
Universal Declaration on Human Rights (adopted in 1948) English | French | Spanish
UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples: report to the UN General Assembly with thematic analysis of conservation measures and their impact … Continue reading “UN Special Rapporteur report on the impact of conservation measures on indigenous peoples’ rights”
OAS American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2016
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”
Tool: “Indigenous Navigator”
“Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in International Law: Emergence and Application”, Gáldu and IWGIA, 2015
Human Rights Standards for Conservation: An Analysis of Responsibilities, Rights and Redress for Just Conservation
Report: “Human Rights Standards for Conservation: An Analysis of Responsibilities, Rights and Redress for Just Conservation” Harry Jonas, Dilys Roe and J. Eli Makagon, … Continue reading “Human Rights Standards for Conservation: An Analysis of Responsibilities, Rights and Redress for Just Conservation”
“Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, Indian Law Resource Centre, 2012