REPORT ON THE SEMINAR ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LEGISLATION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' RIGHTS
Geneva, 25 and 26 July 2005
Noted by the IPU Governing Council at its 177th session
(Geneva, 18 October 2005)
- The seminar, which was organized in partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), took place at IPU Headquarters on 25 and 26 July and centred on the challenges involved in implementing legislation affecting indigenous peoples. It was open to members of parliament of countries in which indigenous peoples lived and those that had a particular interest in matters relating to indigenous peoples. Over 60 members of parliament and representatives of indigenous peoples' organizations and governments participated in the event.
- The seminar was held to help the United Nations Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen (Mexico), to draft his report for the 2006 session of the Commission on Human Rights, which in 2006 will focus inter alia on the role of legislators in protecting and promoting indigenous peoples’ rights, and will address best practices and obstacles encountered in the implementation of relevant legislation.
- While a number of indigenous mechanisms and initiatives have been set up within the United Nations system, parliamentarians have mostly been absent from these forums. The parliamentarians present at the seminar, many of whom were of indigenous origin, greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet one another, and to hear about different national legislative initiatives to promote and respect indigenous rights, and also about the obstacles to turning such legislation into a real improvement of the situation of indigenous peoples.
- In this regard, panellists from Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya, Norway and Panama shared their experiences with participants and highlighted the progress and setbacks in advancing the cause of indigenous peoples' rights in their countries. Their presentations and the subsequent plenary debate helped better identify the obstacles that stand in the way of the adoption or implementation of appropriate legislation. They focused on three areas: (a) experiences in the development of legislation on indigenous peoples; (b) experiences in passing legislation by parliaments, and (c) challenges in implementing legislation relating to indigenous peoples.
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