For your information and consideration.
Please be aware that the UN Human Rights Council is undergoing a review of its structure and effectiveness.
The Russian Federation wrote to the President of the Human Rights Council suggesting matters which should be under review, including a suggestion by the Russian Federation for a review of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The submission of the Russian Federation states:
“There is a need to address the existing overlap and duplication of its (the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) functioning with the work of the relevant Special Rapporteur and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues by redistributing and / or harmonizing appropriately their mandates and terms of reference.”
I am not aware whether this view is also taken by any other States but consider we should be forewarned and prepared to address concerns of ‘overlap and duplication’. It may be fortunate that the Russian Federation suggests that there be “redistribution and / or harmonizing their mandates and terms of reference”, should this wording imply that the three mechanisms might continue to exist without concerns of overlap.
I remember that IWGIA facilitated in February, 2009 a (Madrid) meeting consisting of representatives from each mechanism and other experts to discuss harmonization. Perhaps it is now an appropriate time for a follow-up meeting with the purpose of providing a submission to the review from appropriate body / bodies. I do not know if IWGIA can take a lead on this or whether one of the relevant mechanisms might take the initiative.
For my part I would like to give some discernment of the three mechanisms.
SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR – has a mandate to investigate in situ the situation of human rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples and provide recommendations to States and the Human Rights Council on how they might make improvements to the circumstances of indigenous peoples.
EXPERT MECHANISM ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES – has a role to examine, on a thematic basis, the human rights of indigenous peoples in the comprehensive framework of the Human Rights Council and related agencies including the human rights treaty bodies and special procedures. EMRIP is informed by experts from indigenous peoples and civil society, ensuring an efficient contribution to the work of the Human Rights Council.
PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES – PFII is an annual forum of indigenous issues designed to receive issues direct from indigenous peoples and their communities, on a range of thematic areas beyond human rights. The format of the PFII ensures that indigenous peoples are able to meet and confer annually on the issues that are of priority concern to their communities. The exchanges between indigenous peoples at the PFII event, in the official agenda and through parallel events, builds the global perspective on the situation of the world’s indigenous peoples. The PFII has the core role of interaction with UN agencies to mainstream indigenous issues into the work of the United Nations system.
I hope that this description provides distinct separation between the mechanisms and might serve as the basis for further elaboration of the unique roles of each mechanism and the need for ongoing and greater effort to improve the situation of indigenous peoples around the world.
In addition to defending the existing mechanisms it is an appropriate time to question the commitment of member States of the United Nations to meet basic obligations as members of the United Nations to acknowledge, respect and fulfil the rights of indigenous peoples within their jurisdictions.
The review of the Second Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, provided by the Secretary General to the General Assembly in December 2010, shows clearly that the member States of the United Nations have failed to implement almost all of the actions in the Program of Action for the Second Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The disappointing findings weigh heavily upon the failure of the First Decade to lead to improvement of the situation of Indigenous communities around the world. Almost two decades of inattention, inaction and reticence cannot be justified or tolerated.
Emphasis must ultimately come upon States to demonstrate good faith and good intentions to address the situation of Indigenous Peoples after centuries of political and economic exploitation and exclusion. This has been the clear ambition of the United Nations since 1993, almost twenty years ago, when the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was declared. However, all indicators in 2010 show that little progress has been made in improving the situation of indigenous peoples in situ.
For your information and consideration