UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples reports to UN General Assembly
On 18 October 2010, Prof. James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Peoples, presented his second annual report to the United Nations General Assembly in New York during its 65th session. In his report, Prof. James Anaya notes that indigenous peoples are entitled to their own institutions and self-governing structures to enable them to manage their own affairs and ensure that the development process is aligned with their own cultural patterns, values and customs.
He explains that policies and initiatives aimed at the development of the economy or infrastructure, and are purported to benefit citizens as a whole, can have negative effects on indigenous peoples. He also notes that development projects targeted specifically at reducing the disadvantages experienced by indigenous people and improving their social and economic well-being often fail to properly incorporate their specific needs to advance their self-determination and their rights to maintain their distinct cultural identities, languages and connections with their traditional lands. He calls for enhancing indigenous peoples´ education and skills to empower them to engage and participate in the various elements of development programmes and projects that affect them. The Special Reporteur says that the participation of indigenous peoples in the broader public life of the State is often inadequate and not proportional to their numbers, recommending special measures to ensure that they participate on equal footing in public and political life. On indigenous people´s participation in decision-making at the international level, he points out that continued efforts need to be made to ensure their active involvement in the development of all international standards and programmes that concern them. He exhorts indigenous peoples to continue to strengthen their capacities to control and manage their own affairs and to participate effectively in all decisions affecting them, in a spirit of cooperation and partnership with government authorities at all levels. Prof. Anaya welcomed the adoption by the General Assembly of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as recent statements of support or movement towards support, by the few States that originally voted against the adoption.