In recent years, there have been significant advances in international thinking and action on indigenous issues and rights, including the landmark adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has played an important role in these developments and indigenous issues and the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples remain a priority for the OHCHR.
The Office contributes actively to the Inter-agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues, notably to roll-out the UN Development Group Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples Issues. It conducts training on indigenous issues for UN Country Teams and for OHCHR field presences.
The Office also builds capacity amongst indigenous peoples, including through its fellowship programme for indigenous representatives, offered in four languages. Furthermore, the Office services the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, composed of five indigenous representatives. The Fund supports the participation of representatives of indigenous communities and organizations in the annual sessions of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
In addition, the Office assists the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, and it also supports the new Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including by organising its sessions. Following the inaugural session of the Mechanism, the Office organized an inclusive workshop to contribute to the Expert Mechanism’s study on the right of indigenous peoples to education, which was submitted to the Human Rights Council in September 2009.
The Office carries out a range of country specific and regional activities to advance the rights of indigenous peoples. It provides support for legislative initiatives and pursues thematic work on issues such as extractive industries and on the rights of isolated indigenous peoples.