This was noted by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples during her intervention at the session of the United Nations Mechanism of Experts held in Geneva, Switzerland.
The expert said that the effective application of the Final Document of the World Conference will contribute to improve these capacities, and it is important to monitor how these commitments are being applied.
"I look forward to seeing the national action plans drawn up and implemented and also seeing an action plan for the entire United Nations system," said Tauli-Corpuz.
"I am hopeful that over the years the States will come to the UN General Assembly or the UN Human Rights Council to report on what they have done to put this commitment into practice," he said.
Frustration on the SDGs
On the other hand, Tauli-Corpuz admitted that although there is great disappointment because the objectives and targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hardly mention indigenous peoples, he still hopes that specific indicators will be included that show progress for the peoples. natives.
"Without a breakdown of data, the situation of indigenous peoples will not be visible," he said. It may even happen that an SDG target is achieved for the general population “but at the expense of indigenous peoples.
For example, he pointed out that this happened in some countries where extreme poverty was cut in half but indigenous peoples ended up being displaced and even poorer.
This type of situation occurred when subsidies were provided to the dominant population to invade indigenous peoples' lands to produce monoculture plantations, benefiting the settlers, but displacing indigenous peoples.
Guidelines on transnational corporations
The Special Rapporteur considered it imperative that indigenous peoples be consulted and their free, prior and informed consent be obtained before extractive or large-scale infrastructure projects are installed in their territories in order to avoid risks of high-impact conflicts.
He also affirmed the need for the Voluntary Principles and Guidelines on Transnational Corporations to be implemented at the national level and the Guiding Principles put into practice.
Below is the full text of the Special Rapporteur:
Follow-up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP)
including review of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Declaration of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Geneva, July 20, 2015
First of all, I want to thank the Expert Mechanism and the Secretariat of the Office of the High Commissioner for inviting me to attend this year's session to speak on the various items on the agenda. After the historic World Conference of Indigenous Peoples (WCC), held last year, this year's session is a good opportunity to visit the Final Document and see which of the agreed commitments are being advanced or have great potential to be implemented through national and global level. This document was approved by consensus by the UN member states at the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 22, 2014.
Almost a year after its adoption, this is an opportune time to see the ongoing trends regarding its application. Another reason to review this landmark document is that this year, 2015, the UN is going to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals. The contributions and implementation of the Final Document of the WCIP World Conference will be very important to ensure that indigenous peoples are not left behind in the implementation of these SDGs.
I have been involved with the indigenous peoples processes leading up to the Alta Conference, the WIPO World Conference itself, and the various meetings held after the WIPO. These include the Meeting of Experts of the Permanent Forum on the Optional Protocol, held in January of this year, the meeting organized by the University of Arizona, and the meeting of indigenous peoples held in Geneva in February. I also had the opportunity to speak with various indigenous peoples organizations and networks in various parts of the world to get their opinions on how the World Conference Outcome Document can be implemented effectively. In recent months, I have had some meetings with various state representatives in which we discussed the Final Document of the WPC. Among them, I had the opportunity to speak on this issue with the permanent representatives of the US, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, as well as the Deputy PR of Canada and the representative of the Government of Guatemala. When I was in Oslo earlier this year, I met with the Norwegian Minister of State, where we also discussed the same issue.
The points of view that I have gathered are diverse, but there is a common point that the capacities of the UN mechanisms (UNPFII, EMRIP, UNSRRIP) need to be enhanced to be able to monitor and provide advice on the Declaration of the UN on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Final Document of the WIPO. This is the broader context that will define how the mandate of the Expert Mechanism will be reviewed and improved. It has been reiterated on several occasions that the complementarity of the 3 mechanisms must be sustained and duplication must be avoided. There is simply too much to do to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention No. 169 are protected, respected and fulfilled. Human rights violations and impunity are everyday experiences of many indigenous peoples on a daily basis, and this must not be allowed to persist. Improving the mandate of the Expert Mechanism so that it is able to better fulfill its oversight function will help States and indigenous peoples in defending their respective roles as guarantors of rights and holders of rights.
There are three other points that I would like to highlight. First of all, I think that one of the most important points is the commitment of the States to develop national action plans. Paragraph 8 of the outcome document of the WIPO World Conference (A / 69/2) states: “We commit to cooperate with indigenous peoples through their representative institutions in order to define and implement action plans, strategies or other national measures, as appropriate, to achieve the purposes of the Declaration. ”. What we are seeking to identify are measures taken to effectively implement the UN Declaration, and these can be seen and felt more at the national level. Obstacles and challenges in implementing the Declaration should be analyzed and addressed in a national action plan. It is my hope that over the years states will come to the UN General Assembly or the UN Human Rights Council to report on what they have done to implement this commitment.
Second, the commitment to develop a system-wide action plan (SWAP). This is what paragraph 31 states: “31. We request the Secretary General, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, the Inter-Institutional Support Group on Indigenous Issues, and the Member States, to initiate the development, within the limits of existing resources, of an action plan for all the system that ensures a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the Declaration, and that reports to the General Assembly at its seventieth session, through the Economic and Social Council, on the progress made. " This commitment is important for indigenous peoples because the UN system is made up of different organs, programs, funds and specialized agencies whose legal instruments, policies, guidelines, strategies and projects have different impacts on indigenous peoples. There are some who have developed guidelines and policies on indigenous peoples. The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) has its own guidelines on indigenous peoples' issues.
Coherence and consistency is an important principle that is being requested from the UN system. The human rights-based approach to development (HRE) has been agreed as a fundamental principle to be applied at all levels of the UN by the various organs, funds, agencies and programs. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention 169 (for those who have ratified it) are the main frameworks to be applied in relation to development programs and projects that affect indigenous peoples. . Therefore, the SWAP must reaffirm that these two instruments will be the underlying framework in all policies and programs that they carry out with indigenous peoples.
There are many concrete examples of types of inconsistency that need to be addressed. The most recent example, which I was just evaluating, was what happened at the recent meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Commission in Bonn. From the reports I received, there was great debate as to whether human rights is a framework to use when making world heritage site designations. There were even questions raised about who indigenous peoples are and suggestions that the concept to use be that of local communities rather than indigenous peoples. How is it possible that a United Nations body, which is the main body dealing with questions of culture and cultural rights, allows itself such setbacks in terms of the application of the human rights-based approach?
Many World Heritage sites are on indigenous peoples' territories and are designated as such. The right thing to do, before such processes end, is to first obtain the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and develop clear agreements with the indigenous peoples concerned regarding what their role will be in maintaining this type. of sites, what support they will receive in terms of public policy and technical assistance and what benefits will they receive.
It is important that the bodies or boards of directors and the top management of the various bodies, programs, agencies and funds, move towards the institutionalization of their policies, guidelines and contributions in the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous villages. Article 42 of the UN Declaration reads: “The United Nations, its organs, including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and specialized agencies, particularly at the local level, as well as States, shall promote respect and full application of the provisions of this Declaration and will ensure the effectiveness of this Declaration. "
Many positive changes occur in the UN system in relation to the implementation of the UN Declaration because within the staff of the institutions are individuals who are passionate and committed to indigenous issues. However, when they leave, there is no guarantee that those who come to take charge will have the same commitment. Therefore it is important to achieve a level of institutionalization. I often cite the example of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which created its own policy in relation to indigenous peoples. Subsequently, the Indigenous Peoples' Forum was established and meets every two years, and at these meetings the representatives of indigenous peoples will have the opportunity to speak before the Governing Council and also with IFAD's Senior Management. In addition, to ensure that there is a consistent application of its policy on indigenous peoples and of the decisions taken at the Forum of Indigenous Peoples. IFAD has put in place a quality assurance system, which reviews national and thematic projects and programs to see if indigenous peoples' issues are being addressed, particularly in countries where indigenous peoples live. I think this is a good practice that should be emulated and taken into account in an action plan for the whole system.
The third point is how, the question of development, the impacts on the rights of indigenous peoples to lands, territories and resources, (Paragraphs 20, 21, 22, 23)  the crucial role of obtaining free consent, prior and informed and how traditional knowledge systems are strengthened to promote sustainable and equitable development. In the midst of serious and multiple economic and environmental crises that the world faces today, the visions and practices of indigenous peoples must be reinforced in promoting their own self-determined development processes.
This is precisely the reason why indigenous peoples have been consistently involved with the processes related to the Post 2015 Development Agenda and the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While there is great disappointment that the SDG targets and targets hardly mention indigenous peoples, I still hope that when the indicators are formulated on how to measure progress in the implementation of the SDGs, indicators that show progress will be included. for indigenous peoples. Without a breakdown of data, the situation of indigenous peoples will not be visible. It may also be the case that an SDG target can be achieved for the general population, but at the expense of indigenous peoples. This has already happened with the Millennium Development Goals. In some countries where extreme poverty has been cut in half, indigenous peoples have ended up being displaced and even poorer. Subsidies were provided to the dominant population to invade indigenous peoples' lands to produce monoculture plantations, benefiting settlers, but displacing indigenous peoples. These types of situations where indigenous peoples fall into a vacuum should be avoided at all costs.
Once again, it must be emphasized that before large-scale extractive or infrastructure projects are installed on indigenous peoples' territories, it is imperative that they be consulted and their free, prior and informed consent is obtained. In this way, risks of high impact conflicts will be avoided. Therefore, the Voluntary Principles and Guidelines on Transnational Corporations and others should be implemented at the national level. National Action Plans should be developed to put the Guiding Principles into practice, and if there are elements of these plans directly related to indigenous peoples, these can be included in the national action programs for the implementation of the WCIP Outcome Document.
I was here in Geneva the other week, during the first meeting of the "Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group of transnational corporations and other commercial companies in respect of Human Rights." This is the body in charge of drawing up a legally binding treaty to regulate the behavior of transnational companies and other commercial companies. I was invited to make the keynote address. My full statement can be found on my website, unsr.vtaulicorpuz.org.
I stated in my statement that, “The adoption by the Human Rights Council of resolution 26/9, which establishes this Working Group, is a significant event. The United Nations was responding to a widespread call, including by indigenous peoples, to strengthen the architecture of international human rights law to better adapt it to the challenges posed by corporate-related human rights violations. As global economic trends are increasingly characterized by corporate dominance, their role exceeds the ability of any national system to regulate its operations effectively on its own. The issues at stake are global, and global should be the answer. "
I recognized that progress towards the establishment of a legally binding treaty must build on the achievements made in the debates and application of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These are complementary efforts to get transnational corporations to respect human rights and for states to improve their capacities to provide remedies when human rights are violated. For indigenous peoples, who suffer the worst types of human rights violations and impunity committed by the operations of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, it is in their interest to fight for stronger instruments to address them.
In conclusion, I would like to say that indigenous peoples are not only suffering problems caused by the daily violations of their individual and collective basic human rights. They are also contributing and may even contribute even more significantly to solving the problems facing the world. There is now more evidence, for example, regarding the direct links between respecting the human rights of indigenous peoples and increasing the potential to mitigate climate change. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) conducted a study to investigate how countries that respect the human rights of indigenous peoples to control and manage their own forests are able to reduce gas emissions greenhouse effect. The results show that in some countries where the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional territories are respected, the forests in these territories are capable of capturing more carbon dioxide than forests under government control, such as national protected areas. . Data in Brazil show that in areas where indigenous lands are protected, their forests capture 11 times more carbon than government protected forests. The same is the case of Mexico (6 times) Guatemala (35 times), among others.
I spoke at the International Scientific Conference on “Our Common Future under Climate Change” (CFCC 15) in a panel on “Collaborative indigenous and non-indigenous science for our common future”. This conference was organized by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and was held in Paris a week ago in preparation for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. There were more than 2,000 scientists at this event. The presentations of this panel affirmed that the knowledge systems of indigenous peoples contribute to the solution of climate change mitigation and improve adaptation capacity.
My main message for today is that the capacities of indigenous peoples to contribute to solving some of the world's problems can be further enhanced if their collective and individual human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled by the States. The effective implementation of the World Conference Outcome Document will contribute to the enhancement of these capacities, and it is important to monitor how these commitments are being implemented. I look forward to seeing the national action plans drawn up and implemented and also seeing an action plan for the entire UN system. Thank you for inviting me to speak and I look forward to more discussions of this type.
(1) Paragraph 20. “We recognize the commitments made by the States with respect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions to in order to obtain their free and informed consent before approving any project that affects their lands or territories and other resources. "
Paragraph 21. “We also recognize the commitments made by the States regarding the Declaration to establish at the national level, together with the pertinent indigenous peoples, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process to recognize, promote and adjudicate the rights of the indigenous peoples in relation to lands, territories and resources. "
Paragraph 22. “We recognize that the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities make an important contribution to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. We recognize the importance of indigenous peoples sharing, whenever possible, the benefits of their knowledge, innovations and practices. ”
Paragraph 23. “We intend to work with indigenous peoples to address the effects that large development projects have or may have on them, including those related to extractive industry activities, among other purposes to properly manage risks.”