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The Human Rights Council creates a new expert mechanism on indigenous issues

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In the last session of the UN Human Rights Council a new mechanism on indigenous issues was created. This follows the series of positive developments for international recognition of indigenous people’s rights.
On 14 December, the resumed Sixth Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to create a new expert mechanism on indigenous issues, replacing the Working Group on Indigenous Populations that was formed under the now defunct UN Commission on Human Rights. The creation of the expert mechanism is a direct result of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (DRIP).

The new mechanism, consisting of five independent experts, will assist the Human Rights Council by providing expertise through conducting research and providing recommendations. The selection of experts will take into account “indigenous origin”. Indigenous organisations are encouraged to nominate experts for participation.

The experts will meet for five working days per year. This meeting will also be attended by the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues and a member of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in order to enhance cooperation and avoid work duplication, creating a robust human rights mechanism for indigenous people’s rights.

The annual meeting can be attended by states, other UN bodies, academics, NGOs with Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultation status and indigenous groups without ECOSOC status, so long as their goals are in-line with the Charter.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will provide the new expert mechanism with all necessary assistance so that it can fulfill its mandate.

FORUM-ASIA is extremely encouraged by this development and anticipates that this mechanism will serve to strengthen the international progression and recognition of indigenous people’s rights. This positive momentum follows the landmark passing of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted on 13 September 2007. When indigenous peoples first attempted to access the League of Nations, they were rejected on the basis that they were indigenous; international recognition of indigenous people’s rights has certainly progressed a great deal since that time.