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Socio economic participation of minorities in relation to the right to (respect for) identity Minority rights Network inaugural Conference Rotterdam, Erasmus.

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Presentation on theme: "Socio economic participation of minorities in relation to the right to (respect for) identity Minority rights Network inaugural Conference Rotterdam, Erasmus."— Presentation transcript:

1 Socio economic participation of minorities in relation to the right to (respect for) identity Minority rights Network inaugural Conference Rotterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, October 2010

2 At the bottom In virtually every country in which they live, indigenous and tribal peoples are at the bottom of every social indicator E.g., be poverty levels, income, school attendance or prison occupancy Attributed to exclusion, neglect and discrimination And too few cases in which national statistical systems take open account of the presence of these peoples; and when they do the available statistics are neither consistent nor comparable.

3 Indicators concerning human rights The international community has explored indicators of performance on human rights. “Human rights indicators are tools for States to assess their own progress in implementing human rights, formulate human rights-based public policies and programmes, and make precise information available to civil society and to national and international human rights monitoring mechanisms.” (UNOHCHR web site)

4 UN framework includes 3 kinds of indicators to help assess the steps being taken by States in addressing their obligations: commitments and acceptance of international human rights standards (structural indicators) efforts being made to meet the obligations that flow from the standards (process indicators) the results of those efforts (outcome indicators).

5 Indigenous indicators Also examining whether the indicators commonly used for assessing well-being are well adapted to the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples, and it has generally been concluded that they are not. Indicators for the situation, well-being and implementation of the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples have to be different from the indicators relating to other parts of the population – different even from those relating to other minority groups. The discussions that have taken place on framing indicators on these peoples normally agree on the following related propositions:

6 the indicators that presently exist at the national and international levels on the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples are fragmentary, often ill-adapted to the situations of these peoples, and not commonly agreed upon with their participation. it is necessary to develop indicators in order to assess the present situation of indigenous and tribal peoples, the effects of past and present developments touching on their situation, and the possible impact of developments in the future.

7 the indicators developed for indigenous and tribal peoples’ situations must be developed in a way that is distinct from those developed for other populations, both in order to reflect accurately their unique position in the countries in which they live, and to embody their own conceptions of the world around them. E.g., an assessment of poverty that relies on whether people have a solid roof to their houses, or their income measured in monetary terms, automatically classifies nomadic or herding peoples, and those not living within monetary economies, as poor, ignoring the specific situations and different life styles of indigenous and tribal peoples.

8 International level There is a growing consensus at the international level about what the characteristics of indicators applicable to indigenous peoples should be, but they do not yet exist. The failure to have adopted indicators specific to indigenous and tribal peoples is itself some evidence of discrimination prevalent in attitudes towards them.

9 National level Indicators are sparse, inconsistent and not fully comparable. But the available statistics show that indigenous peoples are at the bottom of almost every social indicator in almost every country where they live. The word “almost” used here means simply caution. Experience indicates they are at the bottom of every indicator in every country. The conclusion: this part of minority populations suffers from systemic discrimination, neglect and exclusion. There is a need to improve the way we gather the numbers, but all the available numbers support this conclusion.

10 Difficulties in constructing indicators There is no international definition of the term “indigenous” or “indigenous and tribal”, nor will one be adopted. Baffles statisticians, poor dears. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples does not even attempt a definition, relying instead on the concept of self-identification. The ILO Conventions have a statement of coverage, not a definition. Contains both objective elements such as being dealt with in particular legislation, having one’s own language and legal system, and occupation of their present territories prior to colonization; and subjective elements such as self-identification, which is characterized as “fundamental”.

11 But governments must adopt definitions to apply their own legislation, which leads to different definitions by country. Same groups included or excluded under ILO C169 in different countries (e.g., Roma, garifuna). Urbanized or partially assimilated indigenous peoples, who no longer live “traditional” life styles, but who still identify themselves as indigenous, may or may not be identified as “indigenous”.

12 In conclusion, the development of consistent indicators for assessing the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples at the national level, and for measuring the compliance of governments with human rights obligations where they are concerned, will not be simple. Many of these same considerations apply to other minorities – ethnic, linguistic, religious and other – but may be less problematic.

13 What do existing examples show? While available indicators show that indigenous peoples are the poorest and worst-off everywhere they live, many countries do not collect specific data on indigenous peoples, and when they do these data do not always meet the criteria. Often because governments consider it “politically incorrect” to ask questions about race and ethnicity – something most human rights activists consider to be entirely counterproductive to knowing what human rights abuses exist, what the situation of minority groups is, and finding ways to address the situation.

14 Examples: Sweden has abandoned the collection of separate statistical information not only about its sole recognized indigenous population but also about other ethnic groups. France also has serious reservations about even recognizing the concept of race, fearing that recognizing the existence of racial differences will serve only to raise ethnic tensions. The underlying logic of such a position is fundamentally stupid from many viewpoints.

15 Examples where statistics do exist United States Statistics of mental health report that, from 1999 to 2004, the suicide rate for American Indians/Alaska Natives was higher than the overall US rate, and that American Indian/Alaska Native adults aged had the highest rate of suicide in the population. Suicide ranked as the eighth leading cause of death for American Indians/Alaska Natives of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for those between 10 and 34. Native Americans continue to experience higher rates of poverty, poorer educational achievement, more substandard housing, and higher rates of disease than any other segment of the population.

16 Australia A report of the Australian Human Rights Commission indicates that in 2008, “Under the life expectation estimation formula adopted by the ABS in 2003, Indigenous males' life expectation was estimated to be 59.4 years over , while female life expectation was estimated to be 64.8 years: a life expectation inequality gap when compared to the general Australian population of approximately 17 years for the same five year period.” For communicable diseases, rates for Aboriginal Australians were reported to be 11.7 times the rate in the non-Indigenous population for hepatitis A, and 1.6 times the rate in the non- Indigenous population for tuberculosis.


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