Wednesday, December 10, 2008

UN Human Rights Day 2008

Schedule of Events for Human Rights Day 10 December, 2008 at UN Headquarters in New York
On Human Rights Day, 10 December, 2007 the Secretary-General launched a year-long campaign during which all parts of the United Nations family took part in the lead up to the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on Human Rights Day 2008.
With more than 360 language versions to help them, UN organizations around the globe used the year to focus on helping people everywhere to learn about their human rights. The UDHR was the first international recognition that all human beings have fundamental rights and freedoms and it continues to be a living and relevant document today.
The theme of the campaign, “Dignity and justice for all of us,” reinforces the vision of the Declaration as a commitment to universal dignity and justice and not something that should be viewed as a luxury or a wish-list.

Continued here:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Amazon Indians' protest forces repeal of laws

{From Survival International} Protests by thousands of Indians across the Peruvian Amazon have led to the repeal of two controversial laws by the Peruvian Congress. The protests were in response to new laws decreed by President Garcia that the Indians said undermined their rights and made it easier for outsiders to seize control of their territories. Following ten days of protests, Congress voted to repeal two of the most controversial laws – Legislative Decrees 1015 and 1073. The leader of Peru’s national Amazon Indian organisation, AIDESEP, described the decision as heralding a ‘new dawn’ for indigenous peoples in Peru. The protests, called off last week, involved an estimated 14,000 Indians. Roads and a river were blockaded, an oil pipeline picketed, and a hydroelectric plant surrounded. The repeal of the two laws must be approved by Peru’s Executive.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Call for Papers: 2009 HUMAN RIGHTS ESSAY AWARD

CALL FOR PAPERS 2009 HUMAN RIGHTS ESSAY AWARD Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law American University Washington College of Law The Academy is proud to announce the topic of the 2009 Human Rights Essay Award. This year’s topic for the essay in English is: “60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: its contemporary normative impact”. Deadline for submissions is February 3, 2009. About the Award This annual competition seeks to stimulate the production of scholarly works in international human rights law. The Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law grants two Awards, one for the best article in English and one for the best article in Spanish. The Jury deciding the Award will be comprised of professionals with a recognized expertise in international human rights law. The best articles may be published in the American University International Law Review. The Award in each case will consist of: a scholarship to the 2009 Specialized Human Rights Program travel expenses* to Washington D.C. housing* at the university dorms per diem for living expenses* for the three-week session Eligibility and Requirements · Participants may choose any subject related to the assigned topic: “60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: its contemporary normative impact”. · Candidates must hold a law degree. · Submissions must be unpublished legal papers in English, written solely by the candidate. · Articles must not exceed 35 pages, including footnotes, and must be double spaced using 12-point Times New Roman font. · Articles must be submitted via email to in Microsoft Word format. · The deadline to submit articles is February 3, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. EST. · Winners will be announced on April 1, 2009 on our website · A comprehensive list of rules is available at: If you have questions please contact the Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at 202-274-4070 or via email at *subject to restrictions

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Article: Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples

Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples Full-text here: Matt Finer1*, Clinton N. Jenkins2, Stuart L. Pimm2, Brian Keane3, Carl Ross1 1 Save America's Forests, Washington D. C., United States of America2 Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America3 Land Is Life, Somerville, Massachusetts, United States of America Abstract Background The western Amazon is the most biologically rich part of the Amazon basin and is home to a great diversity of indigenous ethnic groups, including some of the world's last uncontacted peoples living in voluntary isolation. Unlike the eastern Brazilian Amazon, it is still a largely intact ecosystem. Underlying this landscape are large reserves of oil and gas, many yet untapped. The growing global demand is leading to unprecedented exploration and development in the region. Methodology/Principal Findings We synthesized information from government sources to quantify the status of oil development in the western Amazon. National governments delimit specific geographic areas or “blocks” that are zoned for hydrocarbon activities, which they may lease to state and multinational energy companies for exploration and production. About 180 oil and gas blocks now cover ~688,000 km2 of the western Amazon. These blocks overlap the most species-rich part of the Amazon. We also found that many of the blocks overlap indigenous territories, both titled lands and areas utilized by peoples in voluntary isolation. In Ecuador and Peru, oil and gas blocks now cover more than two-thirds of the Amazon. In Bolivia and western Brazil, major exploration activities are set to increase rapidly. Conclusions/Significance Without improved policies, the increasing scope and magnitude of planned extraction means that environmental and social impacts are likely to intensify. We review the most pressing oil- and gas-related conservation policy issues confronting the region. These include the need for regional Strategic Environmental Impact Assessments and the adoption of roadless extraction techniques. We also consider the conflicts where the blocks overlap indigenous peoples' territories. Citation: Finer M, Jenkins CN, Pimm SL, Keane B, Ross C (2008) Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples. PLoS ONE 3(8): e2932. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002932 Editor: Dennis Marinus Hansen, Stanford University, United States of America Received: June 5, 2008; Accepted: July 13, 2008; Published: August 13, 2008 Copyright: © 2008 Finer et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Funding: This work was supported by the Forrest C. and Frances H. Lattner Foundation Inc. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. * E-mail:

Monday, August 11, 2008

UN Secretary General's message on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

New York, 9 August 2008 - Message on the International Day of the World's Indigenous People In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 9 August as the International Day of the World's Indigenous People. There were many reasons for this decision, but the fundamental motivation was the Assembly's recognition of the need to place the United Nations clearly and strongly behind the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, in order to put an end to their marginalization, their extreme poverty, the expropriation of their traditional lands and the other grave human rights abuses they have faced and continue to encounter. Indeed, the suffering of indigenous peoples includes some of the darkest episodes in human history. Important as it was, proclamation of the day was only a prelude to a greater milestone: last fall's adoption by the General Assembly of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration is a visionary step towards addressing the human rights of indigenous peoples. It sets out a framework on which states can build or re-build their relationships with indigenous peoples. The result of more than two decades of negotiations, it provides a momentous opportunity for states and indigenous peoples to strengthen their relationships, promote reconciliation, and ensure that the past is not repeated. I encourage Member States and indigenous peoples to come together in a spirit of mutual respect, and make use of the Declaration as the living document it is so that it has a real and positive effect throughout the world. As 2008 is the International Year of Languages, this International Day is also an opportunity to recognize the silent crisis confronting many of the world's languages, the overwhelming majority of which are indigenous peoples' languages. The loss of these languages would not only weaken the world's cultural diversity, but also our collective knowledge as a human race. I call on States, indigenous peoples, the UN system and all relevant actors to take immediate steps to protect and promote endangered languages, and to ensure the safe passage of this shared heritage to future generations.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Minority Rights Group's Online World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples

MRG's World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples MRG recently launched the first online database of the world's minorities and indigenous peoples. The World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples covers 220 of the world's countries and dependent territories, and features profiles of about 700 minorities/indigenous peoples. It is a unique resource for policy-makers, governments, journalists, academics and all those with an interest in the growing field of minority rights.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Some Recent Law Review Articles on Ethnic Minorities:

A SUMMARY OF CONTRADICTIONS: AN OUTLINE OF THE EU'S MAIN INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL APPROACHES TO ETHNIC MINORITY PROTECTION Dimitry Kochenov. Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, Volume 31, Number 1, Winter 2008, p.1 Age, Racial/Ethnic Minority Status, Gender and Misdemeanor Sentencing Edward A. Munoz, Adrienne B. Freng. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, Volume 5, Issue 4, 2007, p.29-57 The Ethnic Minority Policies of the People's Republic of China: Patronage and Prejudice Corey Bosely. Rutgers Race & the Law Review, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 2007, p.291 Ethnic Minorities and the Challenge of Police Recruitment Ian Waters, Nick Hardy, Domonique Delgado and Simone Dahlmann. Police Journal, Volume 80, Number 3, 2007, p.191 Drug Trafficking and Ethnic Minorities in Western Europe Letizia Paoli and Peter Reuter. European Journal of Criminology, Volume 5, Number 1, January 2008, p.13-37

Some Recent articles on Indigenous Peoples:

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Flexible Approach to Addressing the Unique Needs of Varying Populations Viniyanka Prasad. Chicago Journal of International Law, Volume 9, Number 1, Summer 2008, p.297

LEGAL MEANS FOR PROTECTING THE INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN A POST-COLONIAL WORLD Jessica Myers Moran. Holy Cross Journal of Law and Public Policy, Volume 12, Number 1, 2008, p.71

Indigenous Peoples' Courts: Egalitarian Juridical Pluralism, Self-Determination, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Christopher J. Fromherz. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Volume 156, Number 5, May 2008, p.1341

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Argentina using DNA testing to identify the "Disappeared".

From the Guardian:

Argentina is appealing to relatives of the "Disappeared" from the time of the "Dirty War" to give blood samples to be used in identifying 600+ human remains.

Monday, March 17, 2008

UNDG Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples Issues

From the February 2008 UN OHCHR Update on Minority Issues "The United Nations Development Group approved Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples' Issues on 1 February 2008. The Guidelines are designed to assist UN Country Teams integrate indigenous peoples' issues into country policies and programmes. The Guidelines were drafted by a group on UN organizations and specialized agencies under the aegis of the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples'Issues." The text is available at:

10 anniversary of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

On March 11, the Council of Europe opened a Conference on the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The program of the conference is here: PDF_Programme%20conference%20%20E%20080305.pdf Further information is here on the website of the Secretariat of the Framework Convention: The website for the COE Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is located here:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Response of CERD to US Reports on treatment of Indigenous Peoples by USA

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has issued it's report on the review of the reports of the USA on the treatment of indigenous peoples within the US and it's territories. The report criticizes the US on several issues; lack of consultation with indigenous groups, interpretation of "racial discrimination"; physical violence against indigenous women; and treatment of sacred sites, etc. It refers to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a doc the US needs to use as a guideline. The report is here: A consolidated Shadow Report by US indigenous groups is available here: and the International Indian Treaty Council has issued a press release here:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples

On 13 Feb 2008, Hon. Kevin Rudd, M.P., the Prime Minister of Australia, presented an Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples in Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition also spoke on the same matter. See See, also, this collection of quotes on the issue:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Forum on Minority Issues

Forum on Minority Issues Replacing the former Working Group on Minorities, the Forum on Minority Issues was established on 28 September 2007 at the 6th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) as a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on minority issues and for contributing to the work of the Independent Expert on minority issues. Its tasks will be: * To identify issues and best practices * To make recommendations on the implementation of the 1992 United Nations Minorities Declaration * To provide the Independent Expert on Minority Issues with information * To contribute to the High Commissioner's efforts of improving the co-operation among United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized agencies, Funds and Programmes on activities related to the promotion and protection of the rights of minorities The Forum will be open to the participation of: * States * UN mechanisms, bodies and agencies * National human rights institutions * Academics and experts * NGOs The Forum will meet for 2 days every year. The Forum Chair will be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council in consultation with regional groups and in accordance with regional rotation. The Independent Expert on minority issues will guide the work of the Forum by recommending focus topics. She will also transmit the Forum's thematic recommendations to the HRC. It is suggested that the first meeting of the Forum should take place in September 2008. Details will follow in due course.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

10th Anniversary of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

Press release - 071(2008) 10th anniversary of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities Statement by Ján Kubiš, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers Strasbourg, 01.02.2008 - Ján Kubiš, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic and chairman-in-office of the Committee of Ministers, said the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was an important day in the Council of Europe’s efforts to protect and promote human rights in Europe, of which the rights of persons belonging to national minorities are part and parcel. Mr. Kubiš recalled that the Convention was the first legally-binding multilateral instrument on minority protection. Continued here:

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Expert mechanism adds implementation clout to UN declaration

Posted: January 04, 2008
by: Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today

GENEVA - The adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the U.N. General Assembly last September was hailed as a historic political and moral victory for the world's 370 million indigenous peoples. Now that victory will be backed up with some practical clout to implement the declaration's principles of self-government, protection of cultural identities and control over traditional lands and territories.

On Dec. 13, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution to establish the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The expert mechanism will report directly to the council as a subsidiary body that will ''assist the Human Rights Council in the implementation of its mandate.'' The body will consist of five independent experts selected according to U.N. criteria.

The resolution creating the expert mechanism ''strongly recommends'' the inclusion of indigenous experts. Members of the group will provide thematic expertise and make proposals and recommendations directly to the council regarding the rights of indigenous peoples.

Continued at

Draft Reso;ution is at

Lakotah Unilateral Withdrawal from All Agreements and Treaties with the United States of America

Press conference - December 17, 2007

We as the freedom loving Lakotah People are the predecessor sovereign of Dakota Territory as evidenced by the Treaties with the United States Government, including, but not limited to, the Treaty of 1851 and the Treaty of 1868 at Fort Laramie. Lakotah, formally and unilaterally withdraws from all agreements and treaties imposed by the United States Government on the Lakotah People. Lakotah , and the population therein, have waited for at least 155 years for the United States of America to adhere to the provisions of the above referenced treaties. The continuing violations of these treaties’ terms have resulted in the near annihilation of our people physically, spiritually, and culturally. Lakotah rejects United States Termination By Appropriation policy from 1871 to the present. In addition, the evidence of gross violations of the above referenced treaties are listed herein. Lakotah encourages the United States of America, through its Government ,to enter into dialogue with Lakotah regarding the boundaries, the land and the resources therein.

Even though we are citizens of the United States of America, we are denied protections of the United States Constitution while living on Indian reservations, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The operation of the United States in the nefarious ways outlined above are a violation, not only of the sovereignty and independence of Lakotah, not only of the solemn treaty signed between the U.S. and Lakotah, but it is a violation of the fundamental law of the United States itself. Article Six of the United States Constitution explicitly states that treaties signed by the United States are the supreme law of the land, and must be respected by every court and by every lawmaker, as such.

Continued at