New York, September 22, 2014. Mrs. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, participated in the high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. The Special Rapporteur participated in a Roundtable on "UN system action for the Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". Mrs. Tauli-Corpuz provided observations and recommendations. She said: "I am honored to speak before you today, to share my own assessment of the Outcome WCIP Document on enhancing the system-wide actions of the United Nations for more effective implementation on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and my recommendations on how to implement this. Indigenous peoples' rights and development issues basically cut across the work of all UN agencies, bodies, programmes and funds. This is one of the main reasons on why indigenous peoples persisted in getting the UN to establish the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and its Secretariat to help raise awareness and coordinate the UN as far as the policies and programmes of the various UN entities on indigenous peoples are concerned."
In the report, the Special Rapporteur presents some preliminary reflections on the status of operationalization of international standards relating to indigenous peoples and her vision for her work as Special Rapporteur in that context. It is the first report submitted by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who assumed her mandate on 2 June 2014.
The Special Rapporteur notes that there is a strong legal and policy foundation upon which to move forward with the implementation of indigenous peoples' rights, and there have been many advances, which the Special Rapporteur hopes to examine and document during the course of her mandate. Nevertheless, many challenges continue to confront indigenous peoples throughout the world. The report consists of four parts. Section II provides a background to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. Section III discusses structural problems that present obstacles to the full realization of the rights of indigenous peoples. Section IV presents some preliminary comments regarding the vision and work areas of the current Special Rapporteur for her three-year mandate. Finally, section V offers conclusions made on the basis of the comments provided in the report.
GENEVA (9 August 2014) – The new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, urges indigenous peoples around the world to remain steadfast in asserting and claiming their individual and collective rights.
On the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Tauli Corpuz calls on States to address human rights violations and to ensure indigenous the peoples' participation in formulating and implementing their national and local development strategies and plans.
"Today, the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, is a day to celebrate the gains and victories achieved by indigenous peoples in their bid to claim their rights and realize their life plans or development visions. However, for many indigenous peoples in many parts of the world, there is not much to celebrate. Countless violations of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights continue on a daily basis. Justice still remains elusive for many of them."
GENEVA / NEW YORK (18 July 2014) – The new United Nations sustainable development goals must not be a step backwards for indigenous peoples, a group of UN experts on indigenous peoples has warned. Their call comes as the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals meets in New York to draft a set of goals which will be presented to the UN General Assembly in September.
"Indigenous peoples face distinct development challenges, and fare worse in terms of social and economic development than non-indigenous sectors of the population in nearly all of the countries they live," they said. "However," the experts stressed, "they also can contribute significantly to achieving the objectives of sustainable development because of their traditional knowledge systems on natural resource management which have sustained some of the world's more intact ecosystems up to the present."
The group of experts noted with concern that all references to 'indigenous peoples' have been deleted in the latest draft of the zero document on the sustainable development goals, which is currently being discussed by the open-ended working group, even though the term had been included in earlier drafts. The experts urged UN Member States in the open-ended working group to listen to the proposals made by indigenous representatives in this process and to ensure that 'indigenous peoples' will be used consistently in the outcome document.
From 7 to 11 July 2014, the Special Rapporteur participated in the seventh session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, Switzerland. During the session, she provided statements on panels related to the post-2015 development agenda, the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Special Rapporteur also held numerous meetings with indigenous representatives and gathered information on the situation of cases of alleged violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples within their countries.
An important aspect of the Special Rapporteur's work is to receive and exchange information with indigenous peoples, their organizations and other sources. The Special Rapporteur relies heavily on information submitted to her in relation to all areas of her work, including promoting good practices, country reports, thematic studies and responding to alleged violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples. The Special Rapporteur places special emphasis on her mandate "to develop a regular cooperative dialogue with all relevant actors" by developing ongoing, long-term strategies for all the work she undertakes.
Communications on alleged human rights violations
As part of her mandate, the Special Rapporteur intervenes in response to alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples. The intervention can relate to a human rights violation that has already occurred, is ongoing, or which has a high risk of occurring. The process, in general, involves the sending of a confidential communication to the concerned Government requesting information, commenting on the allegation and suggesting that preventive or investigatory action be taken.
GENEVA (17 June 2014) – The new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, welcomed El Salvador's move to recognize indigenous peoples and commit to adopt policies to safeguard their ethnic and cultural identities, after ratifying amendments to Article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic.
"This ratification marks a crucial step in recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples in El Salvador and in reversing the historical suppression of indigenous identities and cultures," Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said.
In particular, the Special Rapporteur noted that "the recent Constitutional amendments could be further buttressed by the ratification of International Labour Organisation Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, which remains outstanding in El Salvador."
After the 13th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN-NGLS interviewed Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the recently appointed Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, on her priorities as Special Rapporteur and her reflections on the outcomes of the Permanent Forum.