The present report is submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples to the Human Rights Council pursuant to its resolutions 15/14 and 24/9. It is the first report submitted by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who assumed her mandate on 2 June 2014. In the report, the Special Rapporteur presents some preliminary reflections on the status of operationalization of international standards relating to indigenous peoples and her vision for her work as Special Rapporteur in that context. There are a number of addenda to the present report, all reports by the previous Special Rapporteur.
The Special Rapporteur notes that there is a strong legal and policy foundation upon which to move forward with the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, and there have been many advances, which the Special Rapporteur hopes to examine and document during the course of her mandate. Nevertheless, many challenges continue to confront indigenous peoples throughout the world. In accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 15/14, a core aspect of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is to examine ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to the full and effective protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. As an initial step, and given that the present report is her first to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur identifies in broad strokes some of those obstacles, which are found to some extent in all countries in which indigenous peoples are living.
The obstacles identified in section III of the report include (a) the failure or reluctance of governments to recognize indigenous peoples; (b) challenges in the development of practical implementation measures; (c) reconciliation and redress for historical wrongs yet to be completed; (d) ongoing negative attitudes towards indigenous peoples on the part of broader societies in which they live; and (e) social and economic conditions preventing the full exercise of indigenous peoples’ human rights. The list is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive, and the obstacles identified are in many ways interrelated. It is meant, however, to provide a framework for understanding where further work is needed and to assist in developing measures for action. While the Special Rapporteur fully acknowledges the difficulties in confronting and overcoming those continuing problems, she hopes to be able to make headway on tackling some of the obstacles during the course of her mandate.
In accordance with her mandate from the Council, the Special Rapporteur intends to carry out her work within those areas generally targeted by special procedures mandate holders, i.e.: the promotion of good practices, country assessments, communications concerning alleged human rights violations and thematic studies. While carrying out work in those areas, she will coordinate her activities with the other two United Nations mechanisms with a specific mandate concerning indigenous peoples, as well as with the treaty bodies and regional human rights systems. In all of that work, the Special Rapporteur intends to follow up and reinforce the observations and recommendations made by her predecessors. There are numerous issues that merit thematic attention. Nevertheless, in order to maximize the impact of her investigations, the Special Rapporteur intends to focus particular efforts over the next three years of her mandate on issues surrounding the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of indigenous peoples.
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