Tribal Link Foundation’s Project Access Alumni Mikaela Jade shows Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull her augmented reality app called ‘Digital Rangers’ at a function in the prime minister’s courtyard of Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

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UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples – Call for applications: Please note that the deadline to submit applications to attend the expert workshop on the review of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is:  12 February 2016


UN Voluntary Fund application: EMRIP Application


Convocatoria – Fondo de Contribuciones Voluntarias para lo Pueblos Indígenas 

Por la presente les comunicamos que la fecha límite para presentar solicitudes para participar en el taller de expertos sobre la revisión del mandato del Mecanismo  de Expertos sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas es el: 12 de febrero de  2016.

Fondo de Contribuciones Voluntarias solicitud: Fondo de Contribuciones Voluntarias solicitud

 

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Background

In the Outcome Document of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (General Assembly Resolution 69/2, September 2014), the General Assembly invited the Human Rights Council, taking into account the views of indigenous peoples, to review the mandates of its existing mechanisms, in particular the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a view to modifying and improving the Expert Mechanism so that it can more effectively promote respect for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including by better assisting Member States to monitor, evaluate and improve the achievement of the ends of the Declaration.

In September 2015, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 30/11, which requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene a two-day expert workshop to review the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to propose recommendations on how it can more effectively promote respect for the Declaration.

Expert Workshop

In order to implement resolution 30/11, OHCHR is organizing a two day expert workshop with the following objectives:

  • To propose recommendations on how the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples can more effectively promote respect for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including by better assisting Member States to monitor, evaluate and improve the achievement of the ends of the Declaration.
  • To assess of the work of the Expert Mechanism since its establishment, including good practices, challenges, gaps and lessons learned.
  • To collect, discuss and propose recommendations by various stakeholders regarding the review of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism.

The workshop is scheduled to take place on 4 and 5 April 2016 in room XXVI of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Written Contributions

Written contributions from States, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders are requested in order to ensure broad input to the review of the Expert Mechanism’s mandate and will be received until 14 March 2016. The questionnaire below has been designed to guide written contributions.

The questionnaire below is designed to guide written contributions from States, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders to the Expert Workshop on the review of the Expert Mechanism. It will also be made available online at:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/EMRIP/Pages/Reviewofthemandate.aspx

Download: EMRIP Questionnaire for Written Contributions

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New York, 22 January 2016 (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) — A three-day meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York brought together experts from around the world to identify best practices and recommend ways to preserve and revitalize indigenous languages.

It is estimated that there are between 6,000 to 7,000 oral languages in the world today, but that one dies every two weeks.  “Maintaining and revitalizing indigenous languages is essential to keep our shared cultural heritage,” emphasized Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  The Department organized the three-day meeting, which ran from 19 to 21 January.

“Every Government and every State needs to work with indigenous peoples to keep those languages alive because when they are gone, that whole stream of cultural connections to that part of civilization is gone forever,” said Grand Chief Edward John of Canada’s Tl’azt’en Nation, a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Noting that information and communications technology could be a powerful tool for revitalizing indigenous languages, Craig Cornelius of Google Inc. described how, together with the Cherokee Nation, the firm had created web search and Gmail in the Cherokee language.  Tatiana Degai of the Council of the Itelmens of Kamchatka, Russian Federation, highlighted how WhatsApp messaging and online karaoke songs in Itelmen inspired young people to use that language.  And Amy Kalili of Hawaii’s educational medium Makauila explained its use of television broadcasts and social media to support language immersion programmes for children.

During the meeting, indigenous peoples demonstrated various initiatives for keeping their languages alive and made recommendations.  They called upon Member States to proclaim an international day and a United Nations decade for indigenous languages in order to raise awareness of the urgent need to keep those languages vibrant and alive.  Also recommended was a global fund to support indigenous language initiatives with a focus on community-driven language revitalization projects.  The meeting called upon States to implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in particular the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations the languages, histories, philosophies, cultures and oral traditions of indigenous peoples.

As a matter of urgency, the meeting also called upon the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to prioritize the preservation and revitalization of indigenous languages and initiate practical programmes to that end.  To frame those efforts, UNESCO should adopt a global policy on engagement with indigenous peoples and include the revitalization and promotion of indigenous languages as an agenda item at UNESCO’s General Conference.

The meeting highlighted the important role of indigenous women as the primary transmitters of indigenous languages to future generations, and called upon the Commission on the Status of Women to consider “empowerment of indigenous women” as a priority theme.

Member States also shared initiatives for maintaining and revitalizing indigenous languages.  A group comprising Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Spain and Peru delivered a joint statement recognizing the issue of indigenous languages as an issue of rights.  They also acknowledged the need to take effective measures to ensure that indigenous peoples could understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings.

The final report and recommendations of the expert group meeting will be submitted to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at its session in May.

Source: http://www.un.org/press/en/2016/hr5288.doc.htm

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Australian flag

Every year Australia Day gets bigger, more ostentatious and increasingly imbued with a brazen “kiss the flag”, “love us or leave us” territorial ugliness that eclipses a discomforting truth at the heart of our nationhood.

And that is: for the vast majority of Australians, this is someone else’s land. Always was. Always will be.

It’s inarguable.

Federal parliament might be toying with “recognising” Indigenous people in the constitution. But until that is matched by a broad apology for the violence and dispossession that accompanied British invasion and occupation, a genuine conversation about treaties with first Australians, and a formal acknowledgement of sovereignty and the need for reparations, such symbolism will remain just that – symbolic.

As non-Indigenous Australia parties with itself again today, a good place to start in terms of conciliation would be an apology from both Great Britain and Australia to this continent’s first peoples. What for? For at least a century and a half of extreme violence and continued dispossession that followed invasion, and the British-inspired wars and mass murders across the continent from the first east coast contact in 1770 to the Coniston massacre in 1928 and beyond.

There are precedents. Former British prime minister Tony Blair gave what many regarded as an apology for Britain’s role in the 19th century Irish potato famine; he later expressed profound regret (though not an abject apology) for Britain’s involvement in slavery.

Meanwhile in 1995 Queen Elizabeth apologised to New Zealand’s biggest Maori tribe for Britain’s devastation of its lands.

It is beyond time for Britain to apologise to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The journals and letters of the British – from the first explorers and colonial governors to the soldiers and so-called “settlers” – who arrived from 1770 to massacre tens upon tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and steal their land, make unambiguously clear what happened.

Generations of Australian public intellectuals have wrestled with this shameful past. We’ve had the so-called “history wars” polarised between the alleged “black armband” of historical truth-telling and the “white blindfold” of adherence to some absurd notion of benign British settlement. There has been nothing resembling a national reckoning.

Former prime minister Paul Keating came closest to kick starting one with his 1992 Redfern speech:

… the starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians,” he said.

It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion. It was our ignorance and our prejudice. And our failure to imagine these things being done to us. With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds. We failed to ask – how would I feel if this were done to me? As a consequence, we failed to see that what we were doing degraded all of us.

Tony Abbott, who promised to be a prime minister for Indigenous affairs, referenced Keating’s speech in parliament, speaking of a “stain” on Australia’s soul. And then he behaved like the paternalistic, top-down mission manager of old, conducted a cynical annual PR roadshow to a remote Indigenous community, gathered about him a self interested and blinkered cabal of Indigenous advisers and made the absurd assertion the “Great Southern Land” was “unsettled or, um, scarcely settled” before the invasion of Arthur Phillip’s First Fleet on 26 January, 1788.

That event, of course, is now marked with our annual festival of barbecues and slabs, and fetishisation of a flag that, with its Union Jack, symbolises violence and oppression to Indigenous people.

Such is the indulgence of colonial privilege.

John Howard was worse than Abbott, refusing to countenance any sort of apology because, amid all the contested past of the history wars, he thought it unnecessary for today’s Australians to feel guilt for colonialism’s back catalogue.

Malcolm Turnbull shows little early promise that Indigenous issues will be a priority.

In 2008 Kevin Rudd delivered what was broadly termed “the apology”. Rhetorically and legally specific, it related to the stolen generation, whose experience of being forcibly removed from parents was but one of the many terrible legacies of British invasion with its extreme violence and self-justifying social Darwinism.

Politics in Australia has largely failed the truth regarding British occupation of Australia. Perhaps mindful of potential compensation implications, consecutive recent prime ministers haven’t leveled on anything resembling the extent of the violence against Indigenous Australia and all of its dehumanising generational, social and economic reverberations.

On 30 July 1768, just before he set sail on the Endeavour in search of the “Great Southern Land”, Lieutenant James Cook received secret orders from the British Admiralty.

Cook’s journal and the instructions (respectively manuscripts numbers 1 and 2 at the National Library of Australia, which serves a primary role in this nation’s memory) told the commander he should scour the shores for the “Products thereof” – the mammals, birds and fish, any potentially valuable minerals and decent, organic foods.

And he was “to observe the Genius, Temper, Disposition and Number of the Natives, if there be any and endeavour by all proper means to cultivate a Friendship and Alliance with them … inviting them to Traffick, and Shewing them every kind of Civility and Regard.”

“You are also with the Consent of the Natives to take Possession of Convenient Situations in the Country in the Name of the King of Great Britain: Or: if you find the Country uninhabited take Possession for his Majesty by setting up Proper Marks and Inscriptions.”

Friendship and alliance? Civility and regard? Consent to take the land?

In Botany Bay in 1770, Cook immediately clashed with the Gweagal tribesmen, shooting at least one. He made his claims on the east coast before Phillip landed on 26 January, 1788.

Did Cook seek consent for Britain to take the land?

Did any blackfella say, “Sure, Lieutenant – Britain can have the lot”?

Think about that this Australia Day.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/26/it-is-beyond-time-for-britain-to-apologise-to-australias-indigenous-people

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The United Nations calls for nominations of candidates to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the term 2017-2019 from indigenous peoples’ organizations.

To send in nominations for consideration, the following documents are required:

  • A formal letter of nomination
  • A recent resume/curriculum vitae of the candidate (maximum 4 pages)
  • Information about the nominating organization.

All correspondence should be sent to the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The deadline for submission of nominations is 1 February 2016.

For further information see the letter that has been sent to representatives of indigenous peoples in EnglishSpanish, French  and Russian.

Source: UNPFII
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Some members of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC-COP21). IITC Photo

Some members of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC-COP21). IITC Photo

 

Paris, France – The 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC-COP21) officially adopted the Paris Agreement on Saturday, December 12, 2015.  The Agreement, with the legal force of a UN Treaty, was agreed to by all the 195 States (countries) present.  Once ratified by at least 55 States, it will go into legal force in 2020.  It commits all countries, for the first time ever, to cut their carbon emissions while also recognizing the special circumstances of developing countries.  The States also adopted the “Paris Decision” which is not legally binding, but commits States to immediately begin the process of reducing greenhouse emissions that cause climate change.

Some commentators are denouncing the Paris Agreement as a failure while others are hailing it as an historic triumph.  But for Indigenous Peoples, the Paris Agreement can be seen as another step forward for the recognition of their rights in international law.

The International Indigenous Peoples Forum of Climate Change (IIPFCC) and the Indigenous Peoples Caucus representing over 200 indigenous delegates attending this session from around the world, was invited to make a formal statement at the COP21 closing plenary. The IIPFCC closing statement, presented by elder Frank Ettawageshik (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians), highlighted the three key messages advocated by Indigenous Peoples during the two-week session.  These included a call for the rights of Indigenous Peoples [to] be recognized, protected, and respected within a broad human rights framework in both the preamble and the operative sections of the Agreement; a temperature goal of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius increase over pre-industrial levels; and recognition, respect for and use of Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge, with their free, prior, and informed consent, in measures for adaption to climate change.   The IIPFCC statement, while expressing that Indigenous Peoples were “keenly disappointed” at the shortfalls in meeting these calls, noted that all three Indigenous Peoples messages were “addressed to some degree” in the final Agreement.

In particular, the inclusion of “the rights of Indigenous Peoples” in the preamble paragraph of the Agreement, achieved despite the consistent opposition of some States throughout the process, is a significant and unprecedented step forward.  This is the first time this phrase has appeared unqualified in a legally binding UN Treaty, environmental or otherwise.  The same phrase was included the preamble of the Paris Decision, although both say that States “should consider”, while Indigenous Peoples and human rights advocates called for the use of the stronger word  “shall”.

As noted by hereditary Chief Damon Corrie, Lokono Arawak of Barbados, “strong support by a group of States including Philippines, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Tuvalu, Indonesia, Canada and others, standing in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples throughout the negotiations, was required to achieve these inclusions in the final Agreement.

Despite disappointment that the phrase ‘rights of Indigenous Peoples’ and Human Rights in general did not also appear in the Agreement’s operative section, International Chief, attorney and member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) Wilton Littlechild, Ermineskin Cree Nation, clarified that “the preamble of a Treaty provides the context and framework for interpreting and implementing the entire document.”  The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties supports his assessment. On this basis, Chief Littlechild called the Paris Agreement an “incremental advancement for recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in international law.”

The Paris Agreement also calls on State parties (countries) to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” The 1.5 temperature goal was a core position not only of Indigenous Peoples, but the Small Island Developing States.

Article 7 of the Agreement addressing Adaptation affirms the need for a participatory, transparent, gender-sensitive approach based on science and “as appropriate, traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems”.  UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli Corpuz noted that Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge, innovations and practices are recognized in both the Agreement and the Decision, and stated that moving forward “the challenge is how to operationalize this decision.”

The inclusion of Indigenous Peoples’ core positions both in the Paris Agreement and Decision was the result of the monumental, coordinated and unified efforts by the Indigenous Peoples Caucus throughout COP21.  Despite the shortfalls, the inclusion of “the rights of Indigenous Peoples” in both preambles provides a basis for future advocacy to ensure that all programs addressing Climate Change are carried out with respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples as affirmed in the UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including land and resource rights, free prior and informed consent, traditional knowledge and Treaty rights.

Source: http://www.iitc.org/the-paris-agreement-an-incremental-advance-for-international-recognition-of-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples-121615/

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