Thursday, October 25, 2007

UN Declaration Assists Caribbean Indigenous Peoples

Belize (UCTP Taino News) - The Supreme Court of Belize, on October 18, uses the recently adopted United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples to justify its decision upholding the rights of Mayan People to their traditional lands.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
22 October 2007
Sixty-second General Assembly
Third Committee
19th Meeting (AM)

Small Number of Isolated Communities at Risk of Physically Disappearing

Despite recent progress, as seen in new norms and institutions as well as policies at all levels addressing the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples, there was still an “implementation gap” between those norms and practice, and a number of negative trends vis-à-vis that marginalized population, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard today as it held its discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples.

“Extractive activities, large commercial plantations and non-sustainable consumption patterns have led to widespread pollution and environmental degradation,” Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, told the Committee today as he presented the findings of his recent studies. The end result, he said, was that indigenous peoples, whose lives were closely linked to their lands, were dramatically affected by such trends, which had in turn led to their forced displacements.

In addition, Mr. Stavenhagen continued, various Arctic peoples were now suffering the direct consequences of global warming. And further compounding all of the negatives already cited was the criminalization of the social organizations of indigenous peoples which defended their rights. That by itself had generated new human rights violations, he observed.

The Special Rapporteur underscored that the decrease of territory belonging to indigenous peoples had been intensified by the dynamics of the globalized economy and its attendant increase in water and energy exploitation. A small number of isolated communities were actually at risk of physical disappearance because of those trends, he warned.

Many delegates mentioned the landmark status of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in enumerating the rights of that marginalized population, and reiterated their hopes that countries would work faithfully towards its implementation. Through the Declaration, many said that the international community had begun repayment of a historic debt to indigenous peoples.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Caribbean develops a regional brand to promote island tourism

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Caribbean islands, separated by diverse languages and cultures, are developing a single regional brand to promote the tourism industry that drives most of their economies.

The new campaign, whose logo presents the word "Caribbean'' in a rainbow of colors, aims to reverse a decade-long decline in the region's share of international tourism, said Allen Chastanet, chairman of the Caribbean Trade Organization.

"Whether we like it or not, we're all intrinsically tied,'' Chastanet said Saturday in an interview at the trade organization's 30th annual conference in San Juan. "If you can create more awareness of the Caribbean, then all the destinations in the region will benefit.''

The trade group plans to replace the government tourism ministers who now sit on its board with marketing professionals _ an overhaul that Chastanet said would likely win board approval at a meeting Sunday and will allow for a broader regional emphasis.

"It's very difficult for a minister not to represent his country,'' said Chastanet, who is also St. Lucia's minister of tourism and civil aviation.

Caribbean tourism, which drives most of the region's economies, grew at an average annual rate of less than 3.5 percent over the past 10 years, compared with 4.5 percent around the world, the trade group's statistics show.

Efforts to promote the region gained urgency earlier this year, after many countries reported declines in visitors from the United States, which began requiring travelers to carry passports on trips to the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada.

"We are in a position where we have to emphasize globally the things that make us outstanding, our environment, our cuisine, our culture,'' said Noel Lynch, tourism minister of Barbados.

The publicity campaign has already begun in New York City and Toronto, where billboards for individual Caribbean islands were recently replaced with ads for the region. At least twice before, the region has tried to market itself as a whole.

A 1991 tourism summit led to a collaboration with the Beach Boys, who modified the lyrics of their song "Kokomo'' to mention a host of Caribbean islands in a version played in radio and television spots. A decade later, the private sector financed a campaign know for the slogan: "Life needs the Caribbean.''

While previous efforts collapsed over financing disputes, Chastanet said the current push has the support of the cruise industry and the Caribbean Hotel Association. A meeting of government leaders is being planned for May or June to further discuss funding, he said.

The campaign will not require any island to sacrifice its individual identity, Chastanet said. The more than 30 countries that belong to his trade group will in fact be asked highlight their heritage, he said, describing plans to refurbish St. Lucia's main port and convert old fishing villages into tourist havens.

"We've got to embrace our cultural past,'' he said. - AP

Appointment of new Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples

Dear friends,

This is to inform you that, during its last session in September 2007, the Human Rights Council (HRC) decided upon the criteria for the nomination for special procedures mandate-holders (decision 6-102, only available in English). These criteria, as well as the procedure that was formally adopted by the HRC at its June session (Resolution 5/1), will guide the replacement of those mandate-holders who have already completed their 6 year-term. This includes the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people.

Appointment procedure

As adopted by the Council, the new nomination procedure includes the following phases:

a) Preparation of a public list of eligible candidates by the Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

b) Proposition of short list of candidates to the President by a Consultative Group (appointed by the Regional Groups)

c) Presentation of candidates by the President to the HRC.

d) Endorsement of candidates by the HRC.


According to the list of technical and objective requirements adopted by the HRC, candidates should meet the following requirements:

a) Qualifications: relevant educational qualifications or equivalent professional experience in the field of human rights; good communications skills in one of the official languages of the United Nations.

b) Relevant expertise: knowledge of international human rights instruments, norms and principles; as well as knowledge of institutional mandates related to the United Nations or other international or regional organization's work in the area of human rights; proven work experience in the field of human rights.

c) Established competence: nationallity, regionally or internationally recognized competence related to human rights.

d) Flexibility, readiness and availability of time to perform effectively the fhe functions of the mandate and to respond to its requirements, including attending Human Rights Council sessions.
Submission of eligible candidates

It is important to note that the candidatures for special procedures mandates may be submitted by Governments, regional groups, international organizations (incl. OHCHR), non-governmental organizations, other human rights bodies, and individuals [Note that academic institutions cannot as such submit candidates, but only academics or their individual capacity].

The names of the candidates should reach the Secretariat at the following address: (mailing address HRC Secretariat, c/o Orest Nowosad, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right, Room PW 4-903, UNOG, CH 1211 Geneva; fax: +41(0)22 917 90 11)


The new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people is expected to be appointed by the HRC during its 7th session in March 2008. The Consultative Groups will submit the short list of candidates to the President by the beginning of February 2008 and will consult the public list of candidates in the weeks before. All relevant stakeholders are thus invited to submit their candidates at their earliest convenience.

Luis Rodríguez-Piñero Royo
Human Rights Officer
Special Procedures Branch
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
1211 Geneva 10 - Switzerland
Tel. + 41 - 22 917 91 34; fax + 41 - 22 917 60 10
Email: lrodriguez-pinero@ohc

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Access, Benefit Sharing and the Convention on Biological Diversity

Montreal, Canada (UCTP Taino News) Delegates from around the world are attending the fifth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended working group on Access and Benefit Sharing of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montréal, Canada. In relation to the CBD, the Working Group - convening from 8 – 12 October 2007 - is negotiating elements of an international regime on access and benefit-sharing. The items being discussed include access to genetic resources; fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of their use; measures to support compliance with prior informed consent (PIC) and mutually agreed terms (MAT); an internationally recognized certificate of origin/source/legal provenance of genetic resources; capacity building; and indicators for ABS.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People

Dear friends,

Please find below two important news concerning the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people.

A. Renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people

On 28 September 2007, the Human Rights Council, during its sixth session, decided to renew for an additional period of three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. The unedited version of the relevant resolution, so far only available in English, is attached, along with a copy of the Special Rapporteur's oral statement to the Council.

The Council's new resolution, whose unedited version is attached, reaffirms and reinforces the Special Rapporteur's mandate as described in previous resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights, in areas such as the Special Rapporteur's official visits, communications, and annual reporting.

The Council's resolution further includes a number of important innovations in relationship to previous resolutions, including the following:

- The resolution entrusts the Special Rapporteur with the follow-up of the recently adopted UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples, along with other relevant international standards.

- The resolution invites the Special Rapporteur to work in close cooperation with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and to
participate in its annual session.

- The resolution invites the Special Rapporteur to identify, exchange and promote best practices in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

- The resolution calls the Special Rapporteur to pay a particular attention to the situation of indigenous women and children, and to apply a gender perspective in his/her work.

The current mandate-holder, Mr Rodolfo Stavenhagen from Mexico, will finish his term at Council's resumed session in December 2007, when he will also present his final report. In order to avoid a protection gap, he will retain the mandate until the appointment of the new mandate-holder, initially expected in March 2008.

B. Report to the UN General Assembly

On 22 October 2007, the Special Rapporteur will present his fourth annual report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. The report, now available in all UN official languages, presents an interim description of the activities carried out this year by the Special Rapporteur. In addition, the Special Rapporteur's report includes a number of general considerations on the situation of indigenous peoples in Asia, a region to which the Special Rapporteur has devoted a special attention during the last year.

Melanie Clerc
Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit
UN Voluntary Fund on Indigenous Populations
UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office Motta 2.06
1211 Geneva
Tel: +41 22 928 9737
Fax: +41 22 928 9010