Sunday, December 13, 2009

EU report on Minority Discrimination

The EU has issued a report on minority discrimination. The report has been referred to by the German magazine, Der Spiegel at,1518,666317,00.html#ref=nlint. The actual report in PDF format can be found here: European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey. According to the Der Spiegel account, the most discriminated groups are the Roma in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Greece, Subsaharan Africans in Ireland, and North Africans in Italy. Muslims are another group subject to discrimination as well as Brazilians living in Portugal.

Recent Articles

Indigenizing Intellectual Property Law: Customary Law, Legal Pluralism, and the Protection of Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Identity, and Resources Danielle M. Conway Texas Wesleyan Law Review, Volume 15, Number 2, Spring 2009, p.207

Protecting the Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions of Russia's "Numerically-Small" Indigenous Peoples: What Has Been Done, What Remains to Be Done Michael Newcity Texas Wesleyan Law Review, Volume 15, Number 2, Spring 2009, p.357

The Cultural and Intellectual Property Interests of the Indigenous Peoples of Turkey and Iraq Hannibal Travis Texas Wesleyan Law Review, Volume 15, Number 2, Spring 2009, p.415

Thursday, December 10, 2009

UN Human Rights Day 2009

Human Rights Day 2009 on 10 December will focus on non-discrimination. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. These first few famous words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established 60 years ago the basic premise of international human rights law. Yet today, the fight against discrimination remains a daily struggle for millions around the globe.

“Our main objective is to help promote discrimination-free societies and a world of equal treatment for all,” says the High Commissioner who this year will mark Human Rights Day in South Africa.

She encourages people everywhere - including the UN family, governments, civil society, national human rights institutions, the media, educators, and individuals - to seize the opportunity of Human Rights Day 2009 to join hands to embrace diversity and end discrimination.

The realisation of all human rights - social, economic and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights – is hampered by discrimination. All too often, when faced with prejudice and discrimination, political leaders, governments and ordinary citizens are silent or complacent.

Yet everyone of us can make a difference. You are encouraged to celebrate Human Rights Day by advocating non-discrimination, organizing activities, raising awareness and reaching out to your local communities on 10 December and throughout 2010.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Press Conference by Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York Press Conference by Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights The adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples two years ago signalled the “strong commitment” of the international community to remedy historical ills and combat the ongoing denial of rights, correspondents were told at a Headquarters press conference today. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous people, James Anaya, who took up his mandate in May 2008 and delivered his first report to the General Assembly’s Third Committee today (see Press Release GA/SHC/3954), described a range of activities aimed at monitoring the human rights of indigenous people worldwide, including visiting and investigating cases of alleged human rights violations in Brazil, Nepal, Chile, Australia, Botswana, Russian Federation and Colombia. Responding to a question posed by a correspondent regarding his overall impression of human rights achievements in the Russian Federation, Mr. Anaya said he had been impressed by “progressive legislation and laws on the federal and regional levels”. However, he stressed the need to consolidate and secure the implementation of these laws, as conditions were still very difficult for indigenous peoples there in terms of health, life expectancy and other human indicators. He also noted the need, in the Russian Federation and elsewhere, to strengthen indigenous people’s participation in the design and implementation of the programmes designed to benefit them. When asked what kinds of violations were taking place and in which countries, Mr, Anaya responded that he had received allegations from countries throughout the world. The main issue was to note the general pattern of ongoing violations of the rights of indigenous populations, including the right to lands and resources, cultural integrity, and physical security. He said these rights were lacking in places in Latin America, Africa, Asia and other regions. On a positive note, he added that most Governments acknowledged this disparity and were willing to engage in a discussion. Problems remained, however, and structural elements needed to be addressed within each country to ensure equality. Another correspondent, speaking to situations in Latin America, asked whether Governments there were willing to work with indigenous peoples to address issues such as natural resources and their extraction by transnational companies. Mr. Anaya replied that it was difficult to generalize about any one region, but that certain common patterns could be seen in Latin America. Although all countries in that region supported the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an “enormous gap” existed between recognition and the day-to-day reality. The activities of transnational companies, particularly the extractive industries, remained a common challenge throughout the region with regards to indigenous rights. A further opening of dialogue was needed, he said, between Governments, indigenous peoples, and transnational companies. A consensus must be arrived at by all those concerned, and all parties must be open to various possibilities, in the spirit of cooperation, respect, and a desire to find practical solutions. This posed a “significant challenge”, since many problems were “systemic patterns of violation that dated back literally centuries”, and was hard to reverse. However, he said that, little by little, movement towards that reversal was being made. Governments and indigenous peoples alike should “inject a spirit of optimism”, he said, as a sense that “possible solutions” existed would speed progress. Also speaking to the gap between policies and reality, a correspondent asked whether the last 10 years had seen a reduction of this gap, and what Mr. Anaya’s recommendations were regarding the more urgent challenges. Mr. Anaya said that the gap had actually gotten wider in recent years. This was due to the fact that there was now much greater recognition of indigenous people’s rights, while situations on the ground had “not changed much”. Bridging that gap, or attempting to bridge it, remained at the heart of the Special Rapporteur’s work. Asking how indigenous peoples could take more of an active role in discussions in the Third Committee and elsewhere throughout the Organization, one correspondent pointed out that they were “not like whales or trees, but can have a voice”. Mr. Anaya said he wished that more indigenous journalists and media participated in the relevant United Nations events, and encouraged “colleagues in the indigenous media” to take a more active role. However, he said that the United Nations was widely known as “a system of States”, and, therefore, structural elements were in place that were difficult or impossible to change. However, he noted that some States were including indigenous people in their delegations, and this was “one place to start”. He applauded the actions of Norway, which had included a member of the indigenous Sami people in its delegation who spoke “under the banner of Norway while speaking against Norwegian policy”. When asked about the stark contrast between the living conditions of some indigenous peoples in Canada and the rest of the population, Mr. Anaya responded that, throughout the world, indigenous people suffered the harshest conditions, and that, in many ways, this was a marker of which groups were indigenous. It was “highly troubling” that such conditions often existed, even in developed countries, he said. In circumstances found from the Russian Federation to Canada, he said many times programmes to remedy the situation were launched with good intentions, but did not fit in with “social and political differences”, and were often “laced with paternalism”. Responding to another question, he said that climate change was also a matter of deep concern, as indigenous peoples were suffering the most from its effects, including in the arctic and in small island nations. However, he lamented the fact that animals at risk in the arctic often generated greater media attention than the people there. “You hear more about polar bears and whales than about the people”, he said, a fact that was “deplorable”. Another correspondent pointed out that Botswana’s “official position was that all people of that country were indigenous to Africa and had no separate indigenous groups. Mr. Anaya said it was not his position to dispute that, as it was the prerogative of individuals to identify themselves. However, he said he had expressed to that country’s leaders that he was interested in “particular indigenous groups” that were suffering inequalities, and intended to proceed on that basis. Regarding the situation in Australia, Mr. Anaya said communities that were in their own “country” were the “most healthy”, while those near urban areas tended to suffer greater stress. He added it was, therefore, necessary for Australian indigenous groups to maintain a connection to “their land” to restore the communities’ health “in a holistic way”. He also said that country’s Government was “very aware” of the gap that needed to be bridged, and was carrying out a campaign around bridging that gap in terms of social and economic welfare, basic human indicators, and having a secure culture within a multicultural State. Another correspondent raised the issue of indigenous peoples being driven from areas for environmental purposes, such as the preservation of wildlife or the creation of national parks, as was done when pygmies in Central Africa were expelled from their homes with a view to protecting the gorilla populations. Mr. Anaya stressed that “the rights of gorillas are not the same as the rights of human beings”. Indigenous peoples needed to have a say in such “environmental movements”, he said, and their views should only be overridden under “very exceptional circumstances”. Many times in the past the rights of these groups were trampled in the name of conservation. He strongly hoped those days were over. * *** *

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law


                                                                                     Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
American University Washington College of Law

The Academy is proud to announce the topic of the 2010 
Human Rights Essay Award.  This year’s topic for the 
essay in English is: “The Rights of Freedom of Expression 
and International Human Rights Law”.  Deadline for 
submissions is February 1, 2010.

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 2010 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

*subject to restrictions

Eligibility and Requirements

·         Participants may choose any subject related 
to the assigned topic: “The Rights of Freedom of 
Expression and International Human Rights Law”.

·         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 1, 
2010, at 10:00 a.m. EST.

·         Winners will be announced on April 1, 2010 
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 

Friday, June 26, 2009

E-learning course on minority rights and indigenous peoples

E-learning course on minority rights and indigenous peoples

The course traces the conceptual, political and legal questions associated with the protection of minorities. Participants will debate the challenges of protecting "new" minorities (such as migrants) as opposed to "old" (autochtonous) minorities. Some topics addressed include rights related to religion, language, land, and education. Apply by 1 August 2009.
Learn more >>

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) releases its annual activity report for 2008

Publication of ECRI’s Annual Report
STRASBOURG, 02.06.2009: The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) releases its annual activity report for 2008. This Annual Report describes ECRI’s main activities in 2008 and also highlights the main trends with regard to the presence of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance across Europe:

ECRI is an independent human rights body of the Council of Europe which monitors problems of racism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member states.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Draft Report on the Periodic Universal Review: New Zealand

The U.N. Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review issued its Draft Report on the Universal Periodic Review: New Zealand and recommended strengthening protection for the Maori.

Academy on Human Rights, American University, Washington College of Law

Human Rights Month (May 18 – June 12, 2009) A month of events dedicated to human rights theory sponsored by the American University Washington College of Law, Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. The following panels include former presidents of the Inter-American Commission and the Court, as well as representatives from human rights organizations, and academia. Panels May 27: The Role of International Courts: Current Issues and Future Challenges May 29: Ratification of Human Rights Treaties and the Obama Administration June 1: Environment and Human Rights: Developments on Implementation Co-sponsored by the International and Comparative Environmental Law Program, American University June 3: Indigenous Peoples Rights: Current Status in International Human Rights Law June 5-9: IV Annual Meeting on Human Rights: The 50th Anniversary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights June 5: A Retrospective Look at the Work of the Commission June 8: Freedom of Expression: A Key Issue on the Commission’s Agenda June 9: A Look at the Future of the Commission: How will it Evolve? June 10: Human Rights Violations after 9/11: A Debate about Accountability Details: WCL Room 603, 12:30 to 2:30 Live webcast on our website: RSVP: Phone: 202-274-4295 Email:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

UN Handbook on Prisoners with Special Needs

From UN Pulse: Prisoners with special needs handbook Posted at 10:50:58 AM in Human Rights | | Permanent Link: Prisoners with special needs handbook The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has issued another publication for its Criminal Justice Handbook series. The Handbook on Prisoners with Special Needs (full-text, pdf) covers the special needs of prisoners in eight groups, namely: Prisoners with mental health care needs; Prisoners with disabilities; Ethnic and racial minorities and indigenous peoples; Foreign national prisoners; Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners; Older prisoners; Prisoners with terminal illness; Prisoners under sentence of death. U.N. Handbook on Prisoners with Special Needs

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Recent Law Review articles on Indigenous Peoples June-Dec 2008

From High Hopes to Disillusionment: Indigenous Peoples' Struggle to (re)Gain Their Right to Self-determination Koivurova, Timo International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, Volume 15, Number 1, 2008, p.1-26 Possessing the Pacific: Land, Settlers, and Indigenous People from Australia to Alaska, by Stuart Banner Eamon Lorincz Harvard Environmental Law Review, Volume 32, Number 2, 2008, p.597 Fencing Off the Eagle and the Condor, Border Politics, and Indigenous Peoples Angelique EagleWoman Natural Resources & Environment, Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2008, p.33 The Impact of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Wisconsin Tribes Jon Beidelschies Wisconsin International Law Journal, Volume 26, Number 2, Summer 2008, p.479 Who are the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and New Zealand? Natalie Coates Journal of South Pacific Law, Volume 12, Number 1, 2008, p.49-55 Indigenous Sovereignty: A Reassessment in Light of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Siegfried Wiessner Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Volume 41, Number 4, October 2008, p.1141 Climate Change and Human Rights: Issues and Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples Emily Gerrard University of New South Wales Law Journal, Volume 31, Number 3, 2008, p.941

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Australia to sign UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Australia to Become Signatory to the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Posted: Friday, 13 March 2009, 9:56 (EST)

According to 2009 Australian of the Year, Professor Mick Dodson, the Rudd Government would reverse the position of the previous Howard administration to sign the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

After the Formal Apology to the Stolen Generations, the Federal Government has committed to establish and implement policies to reduce the gap between non-indigenous Australians and indigenous Australians.

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