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International Processes & Initiatives

Every year IWGIA reports on the situation of Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Our global report, The Indigenous World, documents the state of Indigenous Peoples' rights in countries on all continents with detailed country reports authored by distinguished experts, Indigenous activists and scholars. 

It is IWGIA's hope that Indigenous Peoples and their organisations will find our reports useful in their advocacy work, and that a wider audience will use our information on Indigenous Peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World has been published every year since 1986.

This section focuses on International Processes and Initiatives which have a special focus on Indigenous Peoples.

Read all the individual country reports here or download any of the annual editions of The Indigenous World here


The Indigenous World 2021: The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP)

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous (EMRIP) is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council composed of seven independent members, one from each of the seven Indigenous sociocultural regions: Africa; Asia; the Arctic; Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; Central and South America and the Caribbean; North America; and the Pacific. Resolution 33/25, adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2016, amended EMRIP’s mandate to provide the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the rights of Indigenous Peoples as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and to assist Member States, upon request, in achieving the ends of the UNDRIP through the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including through country engagement as mentioned above.

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The Indigenous World 2021: The Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS)

The Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS) comprises two human rights bodies: the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR or the Commission) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court). Both bodies work to promote and protect human rights in the Americas. The IACHR comprises seven independent members and two independent special rapporteurships, and is based in Washington, D.C., United States, while the Court comprises seven judges and is based in San José, Costa Rica.

In 1990, the IACHR created the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with the aim of providing support for the Indigenous Peoples of the hemisphere, as well as strengthening, promoting and systematising the work the Commission itself is conducting in this area. To this end, the IACHR uses a variety of instruments, including thematic studies and reports; petitions and cases, including friendly settlements; precautionary measures; thematic hearings; confidential requests for information from states; and press releases. The Rapporteurship also participates in conferences and seminars organised by states, academic institutions and civil society. The Inter-American Court, on the other hand, issues advisory opinions and judgments, among other tasks.

The following sets out some of the main activities undertaken during 2020 by the IACHR and the IACHR Court in relation to the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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The Indigenous World 2021: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international treaty adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 to tackle climate change. In 2015, the UNFCCC adopted the Paris Agreement, a universal agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of the Paris Agreement is to hold “...the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and [pursue] efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C” (Art. 2a).[1]

The UNFCCC recognises that achieving sustainable development requires the active participation of all sectors of society. Nine “constituencies” are therefore recognised as the main channels through which broad participation is facilitated in UN activities related to sustainable development. Indigenous Peoples constitute one of these major groups and thereby exercise an influential role in global climate negotiations. The Indigenous Peoples’ constituency is organised within the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), which serves as a mechanism for developing the common positions and statements of Indigenous Peoples, and for undertaking effective lobbying and advocacy work at UNFCCC meetings and sessions.

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The Indigenous World 2021: The Indigenous Navigator: Self-Determined Development

The Indigenous Navigator is an online portal providing access to a set of tools developed for and by Indigenous Peoples. By using the Indigenous Navigator, Indigenous organisations and communities, duty bearers, NGOs and journalists can access free tools and resources based on updated community-generated data. By documenting and reporting their own situations, Indigenous Peoples can enhance their access to justice and development and help document the situation of Indigenous people globally.

Through the Indigenous Navigator framework, data is collected that can be used by Indigenous people to advocate for their rights and to systematically monitor the level of recognition and implementation of these rights. The Indigenous Navigator framework encompasses over 150 structure, process and impact indicators to monitor central aspects of Indigenous Peoples' civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), ILO Convention 169 (ILOC169) and other relevant human rights instruments. In addition, the framework enables monitoring of the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Indigenous Navigator Initiative (INI), begun in 2014, has been developed and carried forward by a consortium consisting of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the Tebtebba Foundation – Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education (TEBTEBBA), The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This consortium works in partnership with the European Commission.

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The Indigenous World 2021: The work of the UN Treaty Bodies and Indigenous Peoples Rights

The treaty bodies are the committees of independent experts in charge of monitoring the implementation by state parties of the rights protected in international human rights treaties. There are nine core international human rights treaties that deal with civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; racial discrimination; torture; discrimination against women; child rights; migrant workers’ rights; persons with disabilities; and enforced disappearances. The main functions of the treaty bodies are to examine periodic reports submitted by state parties, adopt concluding observations and consider individual complaints. Concluding observations contain a review of both positive and negative aspects of a state’s implementation of the provisions of a treaty and recommendations for improvement. Treaty bodies also adopt general comments which are interpretations of the provisions of the treaties. A large number of treaty bodies’ general comments makes reference to Indigenous Peoples’ rights. However, so far, only the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) have adopted general comments specifically addressing Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is preparing a general recommendation on the rights of Indigenous women and girls for adoption in 2022.

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The Indigenous World 2021: UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (Permanent Forum) is an expert body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with the mandate to provide advice on Indigenous issues to ECOSOC and, through it, to the UN agencies, funds and programmes, to raise awareness on Indigenous peoples’ issues, promote the integra­tion and coordination of activities relating to Indigenous peoples’ issues within the UN system and promote respect for and full application of the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and follow up on its effectiveness.

Established in 2000, the Permanent Forum is composed of 16 inde­pendent experts who serve for a term of three years, acting in a personal capacity. They may be re-elected or re-appointed for one addi­tional term. Eight of the members are nominated by governments and elected by the ECOSOC, based on the five regional groupings used by the UN, while eight are nominated directly by Indigenous peoples’ or­ganizations and appointed by the ECOSOC President, representing the seven socio-cultural regions that broadly make up the world’s Indigenous peoples, with one seat rotating between Asia, Africa, and Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Permanent Forum has a mandate to discuss Indigenous Peoples’ issues relating to the following thematic areas: culture, economic and social development, education, environ­ment, health and human rights. 

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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