UNSR Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

Statement of Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples to the Human Rights Council 39th Session Print



Statement of Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
to the Human Rights Council 39th Session

Geneva, 19 September 2018

Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,
Indigenous peoples' representatives,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to address the Human Rights Council today and present my reports. I would like to start by expressing my gratitude to the numerous States, indigenous peoples, and others, and in particular to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for the support they have provided as I have carried out my mandate over the past year.

I have, in the exercise of my mandate, observed a worrying escalation in the attacks, criminalisation and threats against indigenous peoples who are defending their rights to protect their lands, territories and resources. For this reason, I have decided to dedicate my thematic report to the Council to this topic.

Report to Human Rights Council - 2018. Attacks against and criminalization of indigenous peoples defending their rights Print

acnudhHuman Rights Council
Thirty-ninth session
10-28 September 2018 Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development.


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Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

Note by the Secretariat

The Secretariat has the honour to present to the Human Rights Council the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, prepared pursuant to Council resolution 33/12. In the report the Special Rapporteur briefly refers to the activities undertaken since the submission of her last report, provides a thematic study on attacks against and the criminalization of indigenous human rights defenders and reflects on available prevention and protection measures. She concludes with recommendations on how various stakeholders can prevent violations and improve protection.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples on her visit to Guatemala Print


The report considers the situation of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala on the basis of information received by the Special Rapporteur during her visit to the country between 1 and 10 May 2018.

The Special Rapporteur notes that the situation of the Maya, Xinka and Garifuna peoples is characterized by serious structural problems, particularly the lack of protection for their rights to their lands, territories and resources and the racial discrimination that pervades all areas of life. She expresses her deep concern at the resurgence of violence, forced evictions and the criminalization of indigenous peoples that defend their rights.

Impunity, corruption, institutional weakness, the failure to implement the Peace Agreements and extreme economic and social inequality are the main obstacles. It is imperative that the Government of Guatemala identify the structural problems as a matter of urgency and work towards their resolution.

Read full report here

English  Español

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples on her visit to Mexico Print


This report examines the situation of indigenous peoples in Mexico. It is based on information received by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples during her visit to the country from 8 to 17 November 2017 and on independent research.

The Special Rapporteur notes that, since the official visit made in 2003 by the former Special Rapporteur, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, and despite the commitments subsequently made by Mexico in the field of human rights, indigenous peoples continue to face serious challenges in the exercise of their human rights.

Current development policies, which are based on mega-projects (in mining, energy, tourism, real estate and agriculture, among other areas), pose a major challenge to indigenous peoples' enjoyment of human rights. Lack of self-determination and prior, free, informed and culturally appropriate consultation are compounded by land conflicts, forced displacement, and the criminalization of and violence against indigenous peoples who defend their rights.

All these problems are taking place against a backdrop of profound inequality, poverty and discrimination of indigenous peoples that restricts their access to justice, education, health and other basic services.

UN experts urge prompt ratification of landmark Latin America and Caribbean environment treaty Print
GENEVA (13 September 2018) – UN human rights experts* welcome the adoption of the landmark Escazú agreement and are now urging States in Latin America and the Caribbean to sign and ratify as quickly as possible a ground-breaking environment treaty for the region.
The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean was adopted on 4 March 2018 in Escazú, Costa Rica, and will be open for signature on 27 September at the UN General Assembly in New York.
The treaty is the first of its kind in the world to include specific binding provisions for the protection and promotion of people, groups and organisations that promote and defend human rights in environmental matters. It was negotiated under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC) and is the only binding treaty stemming from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
“This landmark regional treaty not only guarantees good governance and basic democratic rights but is also an enabler for environmental protection and sustainable development,” the 27 UN experts said in a joint statement.
“There is a special emphasis on people and groups in vulnerable situations and measures to try to help those most in need. We welcome the focus in this treaty on overcoming the barriers and difficulties that hinder the full enjoyment of human rights related to the environment, which is especially crucial in Latin America and the Caribbean,” they added. They also praised the treaty’s explicit recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as the acknowledgement of the cultural diversity of Latin America and the Caribbean and of their peoples.
ECUADOR. Call for inputs on upcoming country visit to Ecuador 19 to 29 November 2018 Print

acnudhThe Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is collecting information in preparation of her country visit to Ecuador scheduled to take place from 19 to 29 November 2018.

In accordance with the established practice of mandate-holders, the Special Rapporteur welcomes all relevant submissions that indigenous organisations and other stakeholders may wish to transmit for her consideration in preparation of this visit, such as:

- Recent analytical reports or surveys on indigenous peoples in Ecuador;

- Information on the policy, programmes and legal framework with respect to indigenous peoples;

- Priority issues/concerns and situations that warrant the attention of the Special Rapporteur;

- Suggestions on issues to examine and related locations to visit;

- Contact info for indigenous organisations and civil society representatives to meet in different regions in relation to suggested locations to visit.

Kindly submit information by 30 September 2018 to indigenous@ohchr.org. Please indicate "Visit to Ecuador 2018" in the subject heading of the email submission.

A global crisis is unfolding. A Letter from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Print


A global crisis is unfolding. The rapid expansion of development projects on indigenous lands without their consent is driving a drastic increase in violence and legal harassment against Indigenous Peoples.

I've been alerted to hundreds of cases of "criminalization" from nearly every corner of the world. These attacks—whether physical or legal—are an attempt to silence Indigenous Peoples voicing their opposition to projects that threaten their livelihoods and cultures.

My new report finds a pattern of abuse, with the private sector often colluding with governments to force Indigenous Peoples from their lands by whatever means necessary to make way for infrastructure, agriculture, mining, and extractive projects.

The Philippines: UN experts urge further action to remove names on Government’s “terror list” Print


GENEVA (20 August 2018) – UN human rights experts* have welcomed a ruling in the Philippines declaring that the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, is a non-party to the government's recent petition which seeks to declare the New People's Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines as "terrorist organisations".

"While we welcome this decision, we are still deeply concerned about the continued naming of many others, including human rights defenders, in the petition, as this tags them as terrorists," said the UN experts.

The decision was issued by the Regional Trial Court of Manila on 27 July in relation to a petition filed in February 2018 by the Department of Justice. In the petition, Ms Tauli-Corpuz was named on a list, with more than 600 others, de facto accusing them as terrorists and alleged members of the New People's Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The Indigenous Peoples, TRIPS & Biodiversity Convention Print

vicky tauli-corpuzBy Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

GENEVA (IDN-INPS) – International standards have come a long way in recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and, indeed, even genetic resources. The adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 finally did away with the concept of biological and genetic resources as the common heritage of mankind, recognizing that States have sovereignty over biological and genetic resources that are owned, found and accessed from within their territories.
The CBD also conclusively recognizes the authority of indigenous peoples over their traditional knowledge. Specifically, Article 8(j) of the CBD directs Parties to enact national legislation to preserve, protect, maintain, and promote the wider application of indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, provided that such use takes place with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge. Article 8(j) also encourages equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices.
Guatemala: Rise in attacks on human rights defenders is deeply concerning – say UN experts Print

logo-acnudhGENEVA (9 August 2018) - UN human rights experts* have raised alarm over the increase in killings, attacks and other acts of intimidation against human rights defenders in Guatemala, amid restrictive legislative and political attempts to curtail their work.

Between 9 May and 27 July 2018, 11 defenders** who were working to protect various indigenous communities' rights in the context of safe and healthy environment, including access to land and to basic services, were killed. These defenders, the majority indigenous, sought to protect their communities from development and business-related human rights abuses***. The attacks were of an unusually violent nature- four suffered fatal cuts by bladed weapons, including cuts to their ears and throat.

"We are concerned that the frequency and severity of these attacks could have ripple effects throughout the population, sending a message that there are dangerous consequences for defending human rights, especially given that these crimes often go unpunished", the UN experts said.

States must act now to protect indigenous peoples during migration Print


GENEVA/NEW YORK (7 August 2018) – States around the world must take effective action to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples, says a group of UN experts*. In a joint statement marking International day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, the experts say it is crucial that the rights of indigenous peoples are realised when they migrate or are displaced from their lands:

"In many parts of the world, indigenous peoples have become migrants because they are fleeing economic deprivation, forced displacement, environmental disasters including climate change impacts, social and political unrest, and militarisation. Indigenous peoples have shown remarkable resilience and determination in these extreme situations.

We wish to remind States that all indigenous peoples, whether they migrate or remain, have rights under international instruments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Statement. 11th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Print


Statement of Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

11th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

11th of July 2018

UN experts to US: “Release migrant children from detention and stop using them to deter irregular migration” Print

acnudhGENEVA (22 June 2018) - The executive order signed by the US President on 20 June 2018 fails to address the situation of thousands of migrant children forcibly separated from their parents and held in detention at the border, UN experts* said. In addition, it may lead to indefinite detention of entire families in violation of international human rights standards, they said.

"This executive order does not address the situation of those children who have already been pulled away from their parents. We call on the Government of the US to release these children from immigration detention and to reunite them with their families based on the best interests of the child, and the rights of the child to liberty and family unity," the experts said.

"Detention of children is punitive, severely hampers their development, and in some cases may amount to torture," the experts said. "Children are being used as a deterrent to irregular migration, which is unacceptable."

The UN experts have already expressed to the US Government their grave concerns over the impact of the zero-tolerance policy signed by the Attorney General on 6 April 2018. As a result of the new policy, parents travelling with their children, including asylum-seeking families, were automatically separated and subjected to criminal prosecution as a punitive deterrent from migrating to the United States.

Alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples. Communications sent: 1 December 2017 to 28 February 2018. #Cambodia #Peru #Egypt #Mexico #Philippines #USA #Paraguay #Guatemala #Bangladesh Print


Alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples. Communications sent: 1 December 2017 to 28 February 2018.
#Cambodia #Peru #Egypt #Mexico #Philippines #USA #Paraguay #Guatemala #Bangladesh.

See Communications report of Special Procedures A/HRC/38/54, 5 June 2018.


Guatemala needs to do more to stop the killings of indigenous activists Print


By Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (*)
The Washington Post, May 23, 2018.

I did an official 10-day visit from May 1-10 to Guatemala as part of my tasks as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. In a span of five days, while I was there and after I left, Luis Marroquin, Jose Can Xol and Mateo Chamán Paau were killed. They were killed in their fight for their rights to continue owning the lands they live in and live from. All of them are Q'eqchi' Maya.

Philippines: UN racial discrimination experts voice concern at “terrorist” list Print


GENEVA (14 May 2018) – Indigenous peoples and human rights defenders must be removed from a list of more than 600 individuals alleged to be affiliated with "terrorist organizations," the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said in a decision on the Philippines issued in the course of the Committee's 95th session, held in Geneva.

The full decision is included below this press release.

The Committee, which monitors the implementation of the UN anti-racism Convention which the Philippines ratified in 1967, addressed what they termed the dire situation faced by indigenous leaders and human rights defenders engaged in the fight against racial discrimination in the country.

Acting under its preventive mechanism — the Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures that aims to prevent existing situations from escalating into conflicts and limit the scale of serious violations of the Convention — the Committee expressed alarm at the inclusion of incumbent and former UN mandate holders on that list.

Guatemala must break cycle of discrimination against indigenous peoples, says UN expert Print


GENEVA (11 May 2018) – UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has expressed concerns over the discrimination and marginalisation of indigenous peoples in Guatemala, referring to extreme poverty, malnutrition, forced evictions and criminal prosecutions.

At the end of a 10-day visit to the country, the UN human rights expert urged the Government to reconstruct its relationship with indigenous peoples. She also called on the Government to ensure accountability and reparations with respect to Guatemala's civil war from 1960 to 1996.

The number of people living in poverty in Guatemala has increased 22 per cent in the last 10 years, she said. Around 40 per cent of indigenous peoples live in extreme poverty and more than half of all indigenous children are malnourished.

Declaración final de la Relatora Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz al concluir su visita a Guatemala Print


En mi calidad de Relatora Especial sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, he llevado a cabo una visita a Guatemala del 1 al 10 de mayo de 2018. Quiero dar las gracias al Gobierno por su invitación al país y por su cooperación durante la visita.

En el transcurso de mi visita, me he reunido con representantes de alto nivel de varios ministerios, el Congreso de la República, la Corte Suprema de Justicia, la Corte de Constitucionalidad, la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos, la Comisión Presidencial contra la Discriminación y el Racismo (CODISRA) y la Comisión Presidencial Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en Materia de Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH), entre otros. También me reuní con autoridades indígenas, mujeres indígenas, organizaciones de la sociedad civil, representantes del sector empresarial, el Sistema de Naciones Unidas y la comunidad internacional.

He podido visitar comunidades indígenas, en donde mantuve reuniones a las que asistieron unas 10,000 personas de los pueblos maya Mam, Sipakapense, Chuj, Akateko, Q'anjob'al, Ixil, Kaqchikel, Tz'utujil, K'iche', Ch'orti, Q'eqchi', Poqomchi', Achi y comunidades multilingüísticas de Ixcán y Petén, en los departamentos de San Marcos, Chiquimula, Alta Verapaz y Santa Rosa, así como con representantes de los pueblos Xinka y Garífuna.

En Guatemala, las ‘violaciones burdas’ a los derechos indígenas son ‘la punta del iceberg’, dice la relatora de la ONU Print

vickytaulicorpuznewyorktimes"Hay racismo y discriminación estructurales que aún imperan en temas de educación, salud, acceso a justicia, y el poder está muy concentrado, tanto en términos económicos como políticos, en manos ladinas", dijo Tauli-Corpuz, en referencia al término utilizado en Centroamérica para personas no indígenas. Y el caso de Chuub "es apenas la punta del iceberg: debajo del agua hay miles de personas indígenas siendo criminalizadas"

 "La situación para las personas indígenas aquí de verdad es muy mala, muy muy preocupante, porque hay tantos temas pendientes... Desde 1996, cuando se firmaron los acuerdos de paz, que incluyen uno para el reconocimiento de los derechos a la identidad y culturas indígenas, en realidad solo se ha implementado el 20 por ciento de lo previsto para estas comunidades."


She Stands Up to Power. Now, She’s Afraid to Go Home Print


By Somini Sengupta (*)
May 3, 2018

Source: New York Times.

UNITED NATIONS — Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is a tiny woman who's used to standing up to power.

A lifelong rights activist who is now the United Nations special rapporteur for the rights of indigenous peoples, her job is to hold governments accountable for violations. For years, she has traveled the world to hear the grievances of indigenous people and press for their rights at the highest levels.

Each time, after a week or two on the road, she has returned home to the Philippines. Returned to her family, her friends, her beloved pine forests.

These days, though, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz is feeling rattled. The president of her country, Rodrigo Duterte, has included her on a list of suspected terrorists.

Fearing for her safety, she left home. For two months, the 65-year-old grandmother has been hopping from city to city with just one suitcase in tow. Hauling two, she says, would be too much.

She is not sure when she will return.

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