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EIDHR - Training on Monitoring International Mechanisms July 2010 Module 1 Treaties and international mechanisms: history, and framework Indigenous Peoples.

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Presentation on theme: "EIDHR - Training on Monitoring International Mechanisms July 2010 Module 1 Treaties and international mechanisms: history, and framework Indigenous Peoples."— Presentation transcript:

1 EIDHR - Training on Monitoring International Mechanisms July 2010 Module 1 Treaties and international mechanisms: history, and framework Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)

2 Plan of presentation 1.Explanation of key words & concepts (in human rights language) 2.6 major treaties, history & structure of UN human rights mechanisms 3.History of indigenous participation in UN, with a focus on mechanisms for indigenous rights

3 1a. Keywords and concepts Human rights - The rights people are entitled to simply for being human, irrespective of their citizenship, nationality, race, ethnicity, language, sex, sexuality or abilities. Human rights become enforceable as they become codified as conventions, covenants or treaties, or as they become recognized as customary international law Declaration - Document that represents agreed upon standards, but which is not legally binding, the UN General Assembly often issues influential but legally non-binding declarations Convention – Binding agreement between states (countries) which is used synonymously with Treaty and Covenant. Conventions are stronger than Declarations in that they are legally binding for signatory states and governments can be held for violating them

4 1b. Keywords and concepts Ratification - Process by which a state legislature confirms a government's action in signing a treaty; formal procedure by which a state becomes bound to a treaty Procedure - In terms of Human Rights Mechanism procedures are the various ways in which human rights claims (complaints) can be made Remedy - In legal terms, the means by which a right is enforced or the violation of a right is prevented, redressed or compensated


6 2a. UN Human Rights System History of UN The United Nations system for the promotion and protection of human rights consists of two main types of body:- 1.Charter Bodies – These bodies are created under the UN Charter (the foundation document of the UN) 2.Treaty Bodies – These bodies are created under the international human rights treaties, in order to monitor implementation of those treaties

7 2b. Charter Bodies - HRC The key Charter Body is the Human Rights Council (HRC), which is the principle UN intergovernmental body responsible for human rights The HRC is the successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and was established by the General Assembly in March 2006 (as part of a thorough reform of human rights work in the UN). The CHR was subsidiary to ECOSOC, but the HRC is subsidiary to the General Assembly It is an intergovernmental body of 47 members states based in Geneva. It meets for at least 10 weeks a year, spread over no fewer than 3 sessions (main in March)

8 2c. Charter Bodies - HRC The secretariat for the HRC is the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR). Their staff offer the main support for human-rights based issues in the UN It is responsible for new mechanisms (the Universal Periodic Review, and Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), and it inherited other special procedures (such as Special Procedures) In module 2 we will look in more detail at the relevant mechanisms

9 2d. Human Rights Council – mechanisms Human Rights Council HRC Advisory Committee Special/Complaint Procedures Working Groups Social Forum & Forum on Minority Rights Expert Mechanism (EMRIP) Mechanisms related to Durban Declaration Universal Periodic Review

10 2e. Treaty Bodies There are nine human rights treaty bodies that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties: 1.Human Rights Committee (CCPR) 2.Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) 3.Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) 4.Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 5.Committee Against Torture (CAT) (also a sub-committee on Prevention of Torture) 6.Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 7.Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) 8.Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) 9.(NB – There will be a Committee on Enforced Disappearances soon)

11 2f. Treaty Bodies The treaty bodies are the independent experts that monitor the implementation of UN human rights treaties by states They do this by reviewing reports submitted periodically by states. Most will consider complaints, and some will conduct inquiries. They will accept information from NGOs and other civil society actors Any treaty body is only relevant to the particular treaty (area of work) and if the country has ratified it (although NGOs can lobby for ratification)

12 3a. History of Indigenous UN participation Started with appeals to the League of Nations (the body before the United Nations) Moved forward after the Second World War, with creation of United Nations, and in the 1970s the growing of more vocal indigenous groups (especially in the USA) Led to the creation of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982 This phase culminated in the signing of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 1997

13 3b. Appeals to League of Nations In 1923, Haudenosaunee Chief Deskaheh (from USA) travelled to Geneva to speak to the League of Nations He went to defend the right of his people to live under their own laws, on the own land and under their own faith

14 3c. Appeals to League of Nations Maori religious leader T.W. Ratana also went to Geneva in 1925 to protest the breaking of the Treaty of Waitangi concluded with the Maori in New Zealand in 1840 that gave Maori ownership of their land Ratana first travelled to London to petition King George, but he was denied access. He then travelled to Geneva, but was also denied access

15 3d. American Indian Movement American Indian Movement (AIM) was formed in 1968 In 1973 Oglala Lakota asked for help with a corrupt and brutal despotic leadership on the Pine Ridge Reservation (related to the strip mining of the sacred Black Hills) There was an occupation of Wounded Knee in February 1973, which lasted 71 days

16 3e. American Indian Movement The occupation was brutally broken up, and reprisals followed AIM concluded there was no route within US justice system to gain recognition of their rights. They expanded their focus to the UN. CERD and later treaty studies gave them support Russell Means

17 3f. Entry points to UN (1) 1977 - NGO conference in Geneva “Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere” 1981 - NGO conference in Geneva on “Indigenous Peoples and Land” 1982 - Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) formed under Sub Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities 1985 - UNWGIP embarks on the elaboration of a Declaration and completes this work in 1993 1993 - UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights adopts the Draft Declaration

18 3f. Entry points to UN (2) 1995 – Working Group on the Draft Declaration (WGDD) under the Commission on Human Rights begin negotiations 2005 - Completion of the work of WGDD 2006 - Human Rights Council adopts the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as presented by the WGDD Chairman 2007 – In September UN General Assembly finally passes UN Declaration

19 3g. Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) As noted WGIP ran from 1982 to 2006 UN Permanent Forum formed 2002 includes reports on Human Rights among others The UNEMRIP(2008) (Expert Mechanism) has taken over some of the functions of WGIP UNWGIP loss because an open mechanism for intervention and it produced numerous positive items:- Series of important papers Study on treaties Study on permanent sovereignty over resources Studies on FPIC

20 3h. Subanon leaders attending the WGIP

21 End thought “The only limit to the oppression of government is the power with which the people show themselves capable of opposing it.” - Errico Malatesta, 1930

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