General Assembly. Meeting coverage. 20th Meetings

By | 20 October, 2015

Seventieth Session,
19th & 20th Meetings (AM & PM)

Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

The Committee then resumed consideration of the rights of indigenous peoples with the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on that subject, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, whose presentation had been postponed by one day due to travel delays.

Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ explained how the impact of international investment and free trade agreements on indigenous peoples was the focus of her report, which targeted a number of areas of concern, including direct violations of human rights.  Future studies would consider how such agreements could be beneficial, she noted.

Such agreements were designed to protect foreign investments and the host States, she said.  Mechanisms to resolve disputes between investors and States were a feature of such agreements.  Investors had direct access to such mechanisms and were not obligated to exhaust domestic remedies beforehand.  Cancellations and alleged violations of contracts had been the most challenged State practices, she said.  Conflicts involving indigenous peoples’ lands were likely to become more common, with them peoples bearing a disproportionate burden of such conflicts.

The right of indigenous peoples to self-determination and self-governance were threatened by international investment and free trade agreements, contributing to a perpetuation of colonial and post-colonial structures.  Indigenous peoples made up 5 per cent of the world’s population, but 15 per cent of people living in property, which was alarming given the wealth of natural resources on the land that they occupied.

Representatives asked questions on topics that included international investment and free trade agreements, reinforced cooperation between her mandate and the United Nations working group on business and human rights, the upcoming conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris and consultation protocols in multi-ethnic and multicultural States.

Responding, Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ said the issue of duplication of mandates was an important one.  Discussions on the matter would necessarily take place during negotiations on the mandate of the Independent Expert.  With regard to impact assessments, she regretted that United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights lacked references to indigenous peoples.

As for climate change, she underlined the importance of taking indigenous issues into consideration during the Climate Conference, particularly with regard to disaster responses.  She then underlined the importance of paying due attention to the needs of indigenous women and girls.  After welcoming initiatives by States to ensure that prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples were being taken into account, she reiterated the importance of inviting and involving indigenous peoples to decision-making processes affecting them.

Taking part in the dialogue were speakers from Australia, European Union, Norway, Mexico, United States, Panama, Cameroon, Congo and Nigeria.


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