A week dedicated to indigenous peoples

OHCHR’s Spanish speaking Indigenous Fellows during the 2nd session of the Human Rights Council’s expert mechanism session - Photo: © OHCHRThe Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is holding its second session in Geneva from 10 to 14 August. Over 300 representatives of indigenous peoples from around the world, UN agencies and bodies, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations will attend.

“I believe that one of the central features of this mechanism is the input by observers, including representatives of indigenous peoples,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, at the opening of the Expert Mechanism. “Your contributions help to build a tight link between real, everyday challenges the indigenous peoples face and the international community.”

The Expert Mechanism will discuss the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the national and regional levels, and review its draft study of the lessons learned and challenges posed to realising indigenous peoples’ right to education. The study will be presented to the Human Rights Council at its 12th session (14 September to 2 October).

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay with four of the independent experts, José Molintas right, Jannie Lasimbang, Catherine Kombe and José Morales.  With them on the extreme right James Anaya the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. - Photo: © OHCHRThe Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is mandated by the Human Rights Council to provide advice and studies on issues as requested by the Council. The five experts, appointed for a period of two years, may also suggest proposals to the Council within the scope of their work.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay welcomes experts and representatives of indigenous groups during celebrations to mark Indigenous Day. - Photo: © OHCHRPillay reminded attendees that the day was more than a symbolic celebration. “This International Day is an excellent occasion to reaffirm our commitment to making sure that those positive developments in international standards are more consistently reflected in practice and that the rich indigenous cultures are not only tolerated but valued and promoted”, she said.

UN special rapporteur on the fundamental freedoms of indigenous people James Anaya, ILO’s Birgitte Feiring and Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Jannie Lasimbang during the celebrations marking the indigenous day in Geneva. - Photo: © OHCHRThe UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Pr. S. James Anaya, highlighted the importance of cooperation between UN mechanisms dealing with indigenous peoples. He will devote two days to listening to testimonies and allegations of human rights violations from participants.

Jane Naini Meriwas and Veronica Senewa Mayone from the Maasai indigenous community of East Africa confer during the 2nd session Human Rights Council Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples. - Photo: © OHCHRThe opening of the Expert Mechanism was also an opportunity to celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People which normally takes place on 9 August each year.

August 2009