Country engagement

Introduction

During its tenth session in Geneva, from 10 to 14 July 2017, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted its methods of work on country engagement.

These methods of work seek to operationalize the Expert Mechanism’s new mandate under resolution 33/25, adopted by the Human Rights Council in September 2016.

EMRIP’s new methods of work with respect to country engagement activities are set out in Annex I of its Annual Report, adopted at its tenth session (A/HRC/36/57).

What is understood as country engagement under EMRIP’s new mandate?

Rationale

Pursuant to paragraph 2 of Human Rights Council resolution 33/25, the Expert Mechanism should:

(a) Upon request, assist Member States and/or indigenous peoples in identifying the need for and providing technical advice regarding the development of domestic legislation and policies relating to the rights of indigenous peoples, as relevant, which may include establishing contacts with other United Nations agencies, funds and programmes;

(b) Provide Member States, upon their request, with assistance and advice for the implementation of recommendations made at the universal periodic review and by treaty bodies, special procedures or other relevant mechanisms;

(c) Upon the request of Member States, indigenous peoples and/or the private sector, engage and assist them by facilitating dialogue, when agreeable to all parties, in order to achieve the ends of the Declaration.

Core principles of country engagement

In its country engagement, the Expert Mechanism will uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, meaning in particular, though not exclusively, the observance of probity, impartiality, equity, honesty and good faith. The Expert Mechanism will neither seek nor accept instructions from any government, individual, governmental or non-governmental organization or pressure group whatsoever.

Purposes and modalities of country engagement by the Expert Mechanism

The purposes of country engagement by the Expert Mechanism may include: analysis of domestic legislation of policies and provision of independent advice and recommendations to the requester(s); facilitation of dialogue between requester(s) and other stakeholders; independent observation of and advice on the implementation of laws and policies to implement the Declaration; capacity-building for requester(s) and other stakeholders; awareness-raising.

The Expert Mechanism can work to bring stakeholders together to describe their activities and understanding and to share good practices and standards from around the world, particularly in relation to relevant rights enshrined in the Declaration. The dialogue may concern broad country-level engagement or local issues, depending on the specific situation. In some cases, working in a closed session may be particularly valuable. Dialogue with national human rights institutions is also a positive area on which the Expert Mechanism can focus.

The Expert Mechanism may also support States in the implementation of recommendations made by other human rights mechanisms in relation to the human rights of indigenous peoples and may provide a deeper analysis of these recommendations. This work may be research-based and/or policy-oriented.

Depending on the nature of the request, the modalities for country engagement may include, inter alia: country missions; training activities for State institutions, indigenous peoples’ organizations, national human rights institutions and other stakeholders; video or audio calls; in-person meetings in Geneva or in other locations; email exchanges; formal communication through diplomatic channels.

How can I/we request the EMRIP to engage at country level?

Requests from States should be received through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which provides secretariat support to the Expert Mechanism, via diplomatic channels.

Requests from indigenous peoples should be submitted to the secretariat of the Expert Mechanism in OHCHR via e-mail to expertmechanism@ohchr.org.

What information do I/we need to provide?

Requests should provide at least the following information:

(a) Requesting institution/organization;

(b) Name of contact person(s);

(c) Description of the situation;

(d) Steps that have been taken to address the issue, including any domestic remedies;

(e) Expected action by and technical advice to be supplied by the Expert Mechanism;

(f) Whether State authorities or other stakeholders have been consulted about or informed of the request submitted to the Expert Mechanism;

(g) Proposed time frame;

(h) Any other relevant information.

What will happen when I/we make our request?

The Expert Mechanism will acknowledge receipt of all requests, and may accept or decline requests as necessary or desired, taking into account existing capacity and resources as well as geographical balance. The Expert Mechanism will also give due attention to issues of current interest, bearing in mind the overall implementation of its mandate (including other elements, such as reports and studies), in order to prioritize requests. Requests that cannot be accepted immediately may be kept in a waiting list and addressed at a later stage.

What will happen if my/our request is granted?

The members of the Expert Mechanism will decide internally which specific members will be assigned to engage with each request, including potential country visits. The decision will be made in accordance with the expertise and portfolio of each expert. Regional expertise and knowledge of local languages should also be taken into account.

Terms of reference should be agreed for every country engagement activity in the light of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism. Modalities of engagement, timelines and the types of activity envisioned, as well as the expected final product, should be prepared by the Expert Mechanism in consultation with the requester(s) and other relevant stakeholders. The terms of reference should also include modalities for the disclosure of information, in agreement with the requester and other stakeholders.

Who can request a country mission?

Country engagement may include country missions by Expert Mechanism members at the request of States and/or indigenous peoples. The approval and cooperation of all parties should be sought. If the proposed country mission is triggered by a request from indigenous peoples, the Expert Mechanism should duly inform the Member State concerned to make sure that the Government agrees to the proposed visit.

What kind of activities can be undertaken during a country mission?

Country missions may be undertaken for the purposes set out above.  Specific activities may include:

(a) Collection of good practices, lessons learned, challenges and testimonies;

(b) Increasing awareness of the Expert Mechanism mandate, studies, reports, advice and goals of the Declaration;

(c) Promoting understanding of the Declaration at the country level;

(d) Providing States and specific government officials with methods of implementing thematic advice issued by the Expert Mechanism;

(e) Dissemination of the Expert Mechanism’s studies and advice and the best practices of stakeholders;

(f) Support with follow-up of universal periodic review and treaty body recommendations;

(g) Policy dialogue with stakeholders;

(h) Meetings and interviews with stakeholders;

(i) Facilitation and promotion of dialogue through information, interpretation, technical legal advice, providing knowledge, and similar means;

(j) Site visits;

(k) Training;

(l) Public lectures.

The actual agenda for the country mission is a matter to be determined by the Expert Mechanism, in consultation with the requester(s).

Where should we direct our requests?

Mail:

Secretariat of the Expert Mechanism on the rights of Indigenous Peoples,
Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section,
Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland 
Email: expertmechanism@ohchr.org