Side Event to the 69th UNGA Session WCIP - Strategic monitoring of Indigenous Peoples Rights: Background
Organised by the International Labour Organisation, the European Commission and partner Indigenous Peoples Organisations
23-23 September 2014, Dinner debate, Hotel Westin Grand Central: 212 East 42nd Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues), New York, NY 10017

The adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 is a landmark achievement that followed years of discussions and negotiations between governments and indigenous peoples and decades-long struggle of indigenous peoples within the UN system. The Declaration enjoys broad global support, including by all the European Union Member States. The UNDRIP, along with the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), provides the international community with a common framework for the realization of indigenous peoples’ rights. The UNDRIP is a reflection of universal human rights as they pertain to indigenous peoples, and is thus complementary to – and underpinned by - the full range of human rights instruments, including the core UN human rights treaties, ILO Convention No. 169 and fundamental labour conventions.


The United Nations’ attention to indigenous peoples’ issues has deepened due to the work of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Issues (UNPFII), the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), the Human Rights’ Council Universal Periodic review. The relevant UN and ILO mechanisms responsible for supervision of relevant ILO and UN conventions provide guidance to States on implementation gaps. Non-state actors, including the business sector, are showing growing interest in indigenous peoples’ issues. For instance, the Global Compact has just launched a Business Reference Guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The International Finance Corporation has up-date its policy on indigenous peoples in the light of UNDRIP.


Despite the efforts, radical changes in the living conditions and human rights situation of indigenous peoples have not materialized. Indeed, indigenous peoples continue to represent poorest segments of populations, as they represent 5 percent of the world’s population but make up almost 15 percent of those living in extreme poverty. Moreover, they are disproportionally represented among the victims of human rights violations, forced labor, child labor and discrimination at work. Indigenous peoples’ lands and natural resources continue to be encroached upon without taking their collective rights into account.
Seven years after the adoption of UNDRIP, the expected changes in the living conditions of indigenous peoples have not yet started to materialize. The Alta Outcome Document of June 2013 adopted by the indigenous peoples in preparation for the WCIP affirmed their views that related legal frameworks still need to be fully implemented.


As UNDRIP does not have a built-in monitoring mechanism and in the absence of progress-tracking tools, indigenous peoples have expressed the need for a practical assessment framework, based on key indicators and adequate disaggregation of data, which is easily accessible to indigenous peoples, including at community level and which facilitates reporting.


In September 2010, the ILO, the OHCHR and the Secretariat of the UNPFII jointly organized an expert meeting that led to the adoption of a UNPFII recommendation to develop a common framework for monitoring the situation and well-being of indigenous peoples and the implementation of the Declaration, including the identification of indigenous-appropriate indicators, possible data sources and linkages to relevant mechanisms, in a collaborative manner with other interested institutions, ensuring full consultation and participation of indigenous peoples.


The ILO has long-standing experience in monitoring and supporting the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights. It is responsible for the only legally binding international instrument open to ratification by states on indigenous peoples (ILO Convention No.169) which covers a wide range of rights and reinforces the UNDRIP. ILO also hosts the Technical Secretariat the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Partnership (UNIPP), an inter-agency initiative - presently comprising ILO, OHCHR, UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA - that supports efforts to realize indigenous peoples’ rights through joint programmes at the country and regional levels.


The European Union (EU) was a key supporter of the adoption of the UNDRIP. Its 2012 Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, commits, among other things, to a strengthened policy on indigenous peoples and the implementation of the UNDRIP. The EU is preparing to revise its policy towards indigenous peoples to this end.


Indigenous peoples representatives have developed a project that aims at improving indigenous peoples' access to justice and development: building monitoring capacity of communities”. The project is being implemented by leading indigenous peoples organisations with the support of the ILO and the EU will be launched during the side event.


EU policy documents on Indigenous Peoples:
•    EU Council Resolution on Indigenous Peoples, November 1998 (EN, FR, ES)
•    EU Council Conclusions on Indigenous Peoples, November 2002 (EN, FR, ES)

Key EU commitments towards Indigenous Peoples:
•    The European Consensus on development, December 2005 (paragraph 100 & 101) (EN, FR, ES)

 

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