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USA / Indigenous peoples’ rights: UN expert to assess impact of energy development projects

USA / Indigenous peoples

21 February 2017

GENEVA / WASHINGTON (21 February 2017) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz will undertake a country visit to the United States of America from 22 February to 3 March to study the human rights situation of indigenous peoples, in particular with regard to energy development projects.

“I will place particular focus on developments in areas of extractive industries and examine, among other things, progress and gaps, and make recommendations for the way forward for the current administration,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said recalling the recommendations made in a 2012 report on the USA  by her predecessor, James Anaya.

The independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the human rights situation of indigenous peoples around the world will travel to Washington, D.C; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Window Rock, Arizona; Boulder, Colorado; and Bismarck, North Dakota.

During her ten-day mission, the Special Rapporteur will meet representatives of the Government and Congress, American Indian tribes and individuals and civil society organisations working on issues related to indigenous peoples’ rights.

In the Great Plains region, she will pay particular attention to the situation of Indian Tribes affected by recently adopted executive order and presidential memoranda related to pipelines, including Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access pipeline.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government, will also study good practices of self-determined energy development projects that have resulted in close collaboration between Indian tribes and the Federal authorities. 

“The visit will allow me to identify challenges as well as good practices on the basis of which I will provide concrete recommendations, as well as the way forward in line with international standards related to indigenous rights and in compliance with nationally and internationally agreed to commitments by the US  Government,” she added.

The independent expert will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

A press conference to share the Special Rapporteur’s preliminary findings will be held on Friday 3 March at 13:00 at the United Nations conference room, 1775 K Street NW, Suite 500 in Washington, DC. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights. Her work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women, and she has worked as an educator-trainer on human rights, development and indigenous peoples in various contexts. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

UN Human Rights, country page: United States

For more information and media inquiries, please contact:
In Washington, during the visit: Deborah DeYoung, [email protected], office: 202 454 2107, cell: 202 276 8670
During and after the visit: Ms. Hee-Kyong Yoo (+41 22 917 97 23 in Geneva / +41  79-444-4355 during the mission / [email protected]), Ms. Christine Evans (+41 22 917 9197 / [email protected]) or write to [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])

You can access this media advisory online

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