The 1st session of the EMRIP, October 2008
During its inaugural session from 1-3 October 2008, EMRIP was occupied with addressing issues which the Human Rights Council had specifically requested it in its resolution 9/7 to look into, as well as discussing what EMRIP’s working methods should be, and how best it could contribute to the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights.
The Council had requested that the Mechanism submit recommendations to the Preparatory Committee of the Durban Review Conference. This request is related to the General Assembly’s decision to hold a review conference in 2009 on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, which was adopted by the World Conference against Racism in 2001.
At its first session, EMRIP affirmed its support for the Durban Review process. It noted the achievements in the area of indigenous peoples’ rights since the 2001 Durban Conference and, in particular, the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the establishment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people in 2001, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues which held its first session in May 2002 and the creation of EMRIP. EMRIP welcomed the positive steps taken by some governments to address the discrimination faced by indigenous peoples, including through the introduction of legislation and ratification of ILO Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries. EMRIP recommended that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) be revised to take into account the above-mentioned developments. In particular, the DDPA should acknowledge that the right of self-determination and the principle of free, prior and informed consent are now universally recognized through the adoption of the Declaration, making paragraph 24 of the Durban Declaration obsolete. EMRIP recommended that these principles be included in the future outcome document of the Durban Review Process.
Secondly, the Mechanism was requested to prepare a study on lessons learned and challenges to achieving the implementation of the right of indigenous peoples to education, and to conclude the study in 2009. EMRIP has entrusted two of its members, Ms Jannie Lasimbang and Mr. José Molintas, to take overall responsibility for preparing this study. EMRIP requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to send out notifications to indigenous peoples’ organisations, member states, relevant international and regional organisations, the Special Rapporteur on Education, relevant UN agencies, national human rights institutions and civil society organisations to submit, by February 2009, information pertaining to achieving the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples to education, including lessons learned, case studies, challenges and recommendations, which may be in the form of written reports or audio-visuals. Moreover, it especially invited the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to contribute to the study.
This text is an excerpt of John Henriksen's article in The Indigenous World 2009. He is a member of EMRIP and was its first chairperson in 2008.
For further information about the first session of EMRIP, please consult EMRIP’s report to the Human Rights Council: UN Document A/HRC/EMRIP/2008, 31 October 2008.