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23 Apr, 2012

UN Human Rights Official to Report on Status of Native Americans


GENEVA / NEW YORK (22 April 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur James Anaya will visit the United States of America from 23 April to 4 May 2012, to examine the situation of indigenous peoples in that country. This will be the first mission to the USA by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to report on the rights of the indigenous peoples.

The aim of the Special Rapporteur’s visit to the United States is to examine the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples of the country, that is, American Indians/Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur will hold meetings and consultations with federal and state government officials, as well as with indigenous nations and their representatives, in various locations.

Of particular relevance to the visit are the implications of the United States’ endorsement, in December 2010, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Special Rapporteur will assess the ways in which the standards of the Declaration are currently reflected in U.S. law and policy, both domestically and abroad, and identify needed reforms or areas that need further attention in light of the Declaration.

The results of this assessment will be reflected in a preliminary report that will be submitted to the United States for its comments and consideration. A final version of the report will be circulated publicly and presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report will include recommendations to the United States, indigenous governing bodies and, possibly, other interested parties on how to address issues of ongoing concern to indigenous peoples.

The Special Rapporteur has planned to visit locations in the Southwest, Midwest, Alaska, Pacific Northwest and Washington, D.C.

According to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, the US endorsed the Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2010, after being one of four member states originally opposed to the treaty when it was adopted by the UN in 2007. The other countries opposed to it, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, have all also changed their views and have since endorsed the treaty. This non-binding treaty outlines the human rights issues faced by the more than 370 million indigenous people throughout the world and encourages nations not to discriminate against them. The declaration was debated for more than two decades before it was passed.

The Special Rapporteur invites indigenous peoples and organizations, and other interested parties, to send information relevant to the visit to the United States or any other aspect of his mandate to: indigenous@ohchr.org

At the end of his mission, on 4 May, Mr. Anaya will hold a press conference in Washington, D.C., at the UN Information Centre (1775 K Street NW #400).

Adopted in 2007, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (*) establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well being, and rights of indigenous peoples around the world.

The UN Human Rights Council appointed S. James Anaya as Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples in March 2008. Mr. Anaya is a Regents Professor and the James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the University of Arizona (United States). Learn more, click here:

(*) Also see:

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The UN Human Rights Country Page – United States of America