UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Purpose of the mandate
Indigenous peoples across the world experience the consequences of historical colonisation and invasion of their territories. They face discrimination because of their distinct cultures, identities and ways of life, and are disproportionately affected by poverty and marginalisation. This mandate was created to:
- Promote good practices, including new laws, government programs, and constructive agreements between indigenous peoples and states, to implement international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples;
- Make recommendations and proposals on appropriate measures to prevent and remedy violations of the rights of indigenous peoples;
- Report on the human rights situations of indigenous peoples around the world;
- Address specific cases of alleged violations of indigenous peoples’ rights.
About the mandate
In 2001, the Commission on Human Rights decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, as part of the system of thematic Special Procedures. The Special Rapporteur’s mandate was renewed by the Commission on Human Rights in 2004, and by the Human Rights Council in 2007. It was most recently renewed in 2019 in resolution 42/20.
Under the basic principles of universality, equality and non-discrimination, indigenous peoples are entitled to the full range of rights established under international law. Their equal worth and dignity must be assured both through individual rights and collective rights. . Indigenous peoples possess collective rights which are indispensable for their existence, well-being and integral development as peoples.
This has led to the development of a specific body of international instruments to recognise and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
Human Rights Council resolution 42/20 requests the Special Rapporteur:
- To examine ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to the full and effective protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, in conformity with his/her mandate, and to identify, exchange and promote best practices;
- To gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from all relevant sources, including Governments, indigenous peoples and their communities and organisations, on alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples;
- To formulate recommendations and proposals on appropriate measures and activities to prevent and remedy violations of the rights of indigenous peoples;
- To work in close cooperation and coordination with other special procedures and subsidiary organs of the Council, in particular with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, relevant United Nations bodies, the treaty bodies, and regional human rights organisations.
- To enhance engagement with and to participate in the annual sessions of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to ensure complementarity between their work;
- To develop a regular cooperative dialogue with all relevant actors, including Governments, relevant United Nations bodies, specialized agencies and programmes, and with indigenous peoples, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and other regional or subregional international institutions, including on possibilities for technical cooperation at the request of Governments;
- To promote the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and international instruments relevant to the advancement of the rights of indigenous peoples, where appropriate;
In carrying out these different activities, the Special Rapporteur is also requested to pay a "special attention to the situation of indigenous children and women;" to consider "relevant recommendations of the world conferences and treaty bodies on matters regarding his/her mandate;" and to “submit a report on the implementation of his/her mandate to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly in accordance with its annual programme of work.”
In 2019, the resolution renewing the mandate also requestedthe Special Rapporteur to “participate in relevant international dialogues and policy forums on the consequences that climate change has on indigenous peoples” and to “undertake thematic research and to develop cooperation dialogue with States, intergovernmental organisations, civil society and other stakeholders on effective and sustainable practices”.