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Human Rights Treaties:
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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights maintains an on-line collection of International Human Rights Instruments. The following are the principal human rights treaties:
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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS;Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 10 Dec. 1948, G.A. Res. 217A (III), 3 U.N. GAOR (Resolutions, pt. 1) at 71, U.N. Doc. A810 (1948).
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INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS ;International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted 16 Dec. 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171 (entered into force 23 March 1976). There are two Optional Protocols to this Covenant: Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted 16 Dec. 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 302 (entered into force 11 Nov. 1970); and, Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on CIvil and Political Rights Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, adopted 15 Dec. 1989, G.A.Res. 44128, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (no. 49) at 206, U.N.Doc. A44824 (1989).
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INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS ;
International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, adopted 16 Dec. 1966, 993 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force 3 Jan. 1976).
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AMERICAN DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MAN ;American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, signed 2 May 1948, Res. XXX. Final Act, Ninth International Conference of American States, Bogata, Colombia, 30 March - 2 May, 1948, at 38 (Pan American Union 1948), O.A.S. Off. Rec. OEASer.LVII.23?doc. 21Rev. 6 (English 1979).
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AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ;American Convention on Human Rights, opened for signature 22 Nov. 1969, O.A.S.T.S. No. 36 (entered into force 18 July 1978). There is one Additional Protocol: Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador), opened for signature 17 Nov. 1988, O.A.S.T.S. No. 69 (1989).
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EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ;European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, opened for signature 4 Nov. 1950, Eur.T.S. No. 5, 213 U.N.T.S. 221 (entered into force 3 Sept. 1953). There are eight Protocols to the Convention: Protocol 1, Eur.T.S. No. 9, 213 U.N.T.S 262 (1952); Protocol 2, Eur.T.S. No. 44 (1963); Protocol 3, Eur.T.S. No. 45 (1963); Protocol 4, Eur.T.S. No. 46 (1963); Protocol 5, Eur.T.S. No. 55 (1966); Protocol 6, Eur.T.S. No. 114 (1983); Protocol 7, Eur.T.S. No. 117 (1984); and, Protocol 8, Eur.T.S. No. 118 (1985). All have been in force since 1 January 1990.
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HELSINKI FINAL ACT ;Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe: Final Act, signed 1 Aug. 1975, 73 Dep't. State Bull. 323 (1975).
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AFRICAN CHARTER OF HUMAN AND PEOPLES' RIGHTS ;African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, adopted 27 June 1981, O.A.U. Doc. CABLEG673Rev. 5 (1981) (entered into force 21 Oct. 1986). .
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United Nations
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NEW-- Human Rights Council adopts Declaration in June 2006
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Human Rights Council Res. 2006/2, Working group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft declaration in accordance with paragraph 5 of the General Assembly res. 49/214 of 23 December 1994 (2006).
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Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
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This is the most comprehensive statement of the rights of Indigenous Peoples to date, establishing collective rights to a greater extent than any other document in international human rights law. It establishes the rights of Indigenous Peoples to the protection of their cultural property and identity as well as the rights to education, employment, health, religion, language and more. It also protects the right of Indigenous Peoples to own land collectively. Although States are not legally bound by the Declaration, it will exert a considerable amount of moral force when adopted by the General Assembly. Consisting of 46 Articles, the draft Declaration is divided into nine parts:
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Part 1. Fundamental Rights
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Part 2. Life and Security
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Part 3. Culture, Religion, and Language Laws
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Part 4. Education, Media, and Employment
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Part 5. Participation and Development
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Part 6. Land and Resources
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Part 7. Self Government and Indigenous
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Part 8. Implementation
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Part 9. Minimum Standards
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Originally drafted in 1985 by the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, the world’s largest human rights forum, the draft Declaration was adopted by the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in 1994. From there, the draft was submitted to the Commission on Human Rights, which established the Working Group on the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Working Group, in which more than 200 Indigenous organizations participate, meets once a year. Its goal is to facilitate the General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration by 2004, the final year of the International Decade for the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
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Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the first international document that states that all human beings are “equal in dignity and rights.” (Article 1) Everybody is entitled to the rights in the Declaration, “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” (Article 2)
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Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1951)
Genocide means any of the following acts which have the intention of destroying, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: “killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” (Article 2)
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International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)This Covenant outlines the basic civil and political rights of individuals. There are also provisions for collective rights. “In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.” (Article 27)
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International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)This Covenant describes the basic economic, social, and cultural rights of individuals. It also has provisions for collective rights.
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Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1966)
“Racial discrimination” is defined as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” (Article 1)
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International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169 (1989)
The ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention was the first international convention to address the specific needs for Indigenous Peoples' human rights. The Convention outlines the responsibilities of governments in promoting and protecting the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
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Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990)
The Convention contains regulations and suggestions relevant to Indigenous Peoples on the non-discrimination of children (Article 2), the broadcasting of information by the mass media in minority languages (Article 17), the right to education, including education on human rights, its own cultural identity, language and values. (Article 29) Article 30 states that children of minorities or indigenous origin shall not be denied the right to their own culture, religion or language. (Article 30)
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Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992)
This Declaration deals with all minorities, which includes many of the world’s Indigenous Peoples. It only concerns individual rights, although collective rights might be derived from those individual rights. The Declaration deals both with states’ obligations towards minorities as well as the rights of minority people. Topics that are dealt with include the national or ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic identity of minorities (Article 1); the free expression and development of culture; association of minorities amongst themselves; participation in decisions regarding the minority (Article 2); the exercise of minority rights, both individual and in groups (Article 3); and education of and about minorities. (Article 4)
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Rio Declaration of Environment and Development and Agenda 21 (1992)
These two documents are connected to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In them, the special relationship between Indigenous Peoples and their lands is acknowledged. Indigenous Peoples have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their traditional knowledge and practices. (Rio Declaration, Principle 22) In order to fully make use of that knowledge, some Indigenous Peoples might need greater control over their land, self-management of their resources and participation in development decisions affecting them. (Agenda 21, Chapter 26.4)
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Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)
The Convention calls upon its signatories to “respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices;” (Article 8(j))
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Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (1993)
The Vienna Declaration is the closing declaration of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights held in Austria. It “recognizes the inherent dignity and the unique contribution of indigenous people [sic] to the development and plurality of society and strongly reaffirms the commitment of the international community to their economic, social and cultural well-being.” (I.20)
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Furthermore, the declaration called for the completion of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the renewal and updating of the mandate of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations and the proclamation of the International Decade of Indigenous Peoples. (II.28 – 32)
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Report of the International Conference on Population and Development (1994)
At the Conference it was agreed that the perspectives and needs of Indigenous Peoples should be included in population, development or environmental programs that affect them, that they should receive population- and development-related services that are socially, culturally and ecologically appropriate. (Paragraph 6.24) Another important decision was that Indigenous Peoples should be enabled to have tenure and manage their land, and protect the natural resources and ecosystems on which they depend. (Paragraph 6.27)
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Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (2001)
The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action has a specific section dealing with Indigenous Peoples issues. Perhaps more important than all the recommendations is the fact that the Declaration is the first United Nations document that uses the phrase “Indigenous Peoples” rather than “Indigenous People”.
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European Union (EU)
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Council Resolution on Indigenous Peoples within the Framework of the Development Cooperation of the Community and Members States (1998)
This resolution provides the main European Union guidelines for support of Indigenous Peoples. It calls for the integration of Indigenous Peoples’ interests in all levels of development cooperation and the full and free participation of Indigenous Peoples in the development process. The resolution states: “Indigenous cultures constitute a heritage of diverse knowledge and ideas, which is a potential resource for the entire planet.”
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Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
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OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
The Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities was established in 1992 to identify and seek early resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace, stability or friendly relations between OSCE participating States. The High Commissioner has no specific Indigenous Peoples mandate, but treats Indigenous Peoples like any other national minority.
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Organization of American States (OAS)
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Proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (1997)
The draft Declaration outlines the human rights that are specific to Indigenous Peoples. Items covered include, among others, the right to self-government, indigenous law and the right to cultural heritage. A Working Group of the OAS is still discussing the Declaration.
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World Bank
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World Bank Operational Directive (1991)
This Operational Directive outlines the World Bank’s definition of and interest in Indigenous Peoples. It also addresses economic issues (technical assistance and investment project mechanisms) concerning Indigenous Peoples. The Bank’s narrow definition of Indigenous Peoples and ambiguity concerning its role in their economic development has resulted in much criticism from Indigenous Peoples' human rights advocates. Consequently, the World Bank is currently in the process of revising it. A draft of the new Directive 4.10 (http://wbln0018.worldbank.org/essd/essd.nsf/0/c9878d8cbf6e2ac485256a6b007c93e0?OpenDocument) is available on the World Bank website.
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