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New Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Meeting in Geneva from 1 to 3 October, the first session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples gathers over 300 participants from all regions and different backgrounds seeking to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

Deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang and Human Rights Council President Martin Uhomoibhi open the first session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 1 October 2008 - © OHCHRComposed of five experts, the new United Nations mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples has replaced the Working Group on Indigenous Populations – the first UN body established for the improvement of the living conditions of Indigenous peoples.

When opening the first session of the new Expert Mechanism, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang encouraged the experts to consider the ways in which they would contribute to the promotion and implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The Declaration sets out a clear and universally agreed upon framework for the advancement of the rights of indigenous peoples. While the Declaration is non-binding, it nonetheless offers the basis for reconciliation between indigenous peoples and States,” she said.

“The provisions of the Declaration provide an agenda for dialogue and practical policy-making. The OHCHR’s work is to assist States and indigenous peoples in implementing the Declaration, and the Expert Mechanism has an instrumental role to play in this regard,” said the Deputy High Commissioner.

The Expert Mechanism will provide the Human Rights Council with thematic expertise on the rights of indigenous peoples based on studies and research. For example, the Council has requested the expert mechanism to prepare a study on the right of indigenous peoples to education to be concluded in 2009.

The new mechanism is to coordinate its work with other UN efforts to promote the rights of indigenous peoples, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Among others, the Human Rights Council has requested the Expert Mechanism to seek input from relevant stakeholders, and to review and submit recommendations to the anti-racism Review Conference scheduled for April 2009.

October 2008