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OHCHR: Expert Seminar on Indigenous Peoples’ Sovereignty

OHCHR: Expert Seminar on Indigenous Peoples’ Sovereignty

Expert seminar on indigenous peoples’ permanent sovereignty over natural resources and on their relationship to land

Palais des Nations, Geneva, 25, 26 and 27 January 2006 in room XXIV.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will convene an expert seminar to which representatives of indigenous peoples and governments, as well as the Special Rapporteur, will be invited. Permanent sovereignty over natural resources and on their relationship to land will form the pivotal points of the seminar. This, in order to continue discussions on political, legal, economic, social and cultural aspects relating to the study of the Special Rapporteur entitled “Indigenous peoples’ permanent sovereignty over natural resources”, as well as her other study entitled “Indigenous peoples and their relationship to land”.

To access the Draft Agenda, please click here

Excerpts from Special Rapporteur, Ms. Erica Irene Daes, reports to the Commission on Human Rights:

“Since the establishment of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, indigenous
peoples have emphasized in that forum the fundamental nature of their relationship to their homelands. They have done so in the context of the urgent need for understanding by non-indigenous societies of the spiritual, social, cultural, economic and political significance to indigenous societies of their lands, territories and resources for their continued survival and vitality. In order to understand the profound relationship that indigenous peoples have with their lands, territories and resources, there is a need for recognition of the cultural differences that exist between them and non-indigenous people, particularly in the countries in which they live. Indigenous peoples have urged the world community to attach positive value to this distinct relationship.”

“Many reports and statements made by indigenous peoples and States since the
appearance of indigenous peoples at the United Nations in the 1970s have highlighted the
importance of lands and resources to indigenous peoples. The importance and usefulness of a study on indigenous peoples’ permanent sovereignty over natural resources has been further emphasized by the ongoing debates about indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and the adverse impacts of natural resource exploitation in indigenous territories. Consequently, the reconciliation of the legitimate interests of States with the prior rights of indigenous peoples to their natural resources has been recognized by many as a critical and necessary step for the advancement of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The principle is this: Peoples and nations must have the authority to manage and control their natural resources and in doing so to enjoy the benefits of their development and conservation. Since the early 1950s, the principle has been advocated as a means of securing for peoples emerging from colonial rule the economic benefits derived from the natural resources within their territories and to give newly independent States the legal authority to combat and redress the infringement of their economic sovereignty arising from oppressive and inequitable contracts and other arrangements orchestrated by other States and foreign companies. The principle was and continues to be an essential precondition to a people’s realization of its right of self-determination and its right to development.

As a result, it has become clear that meaningful political and economic self-determination of indigenous peoples will never be possible without indigenous peoples’ having the legal authority to exercise control over their lands and territories.”

Excerpts taken from:


11-06-2001 (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/21)


13-07-2004 (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/30)

Source: UNPO

Source: UN

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