This is an important juncture in the process leading up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014. Our overarching task is to ensure that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UN treaties and other internationally accepted standards are in fact implemented.
We appreciate the excellent work by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This work plays an important role in promoting the implementation by States of their commitments.
Ensuring indigenous peoples’ participation at the World Conference is of crucial importance. We want to express our gratitude for the work concluded at the UN General Assembly yesterday on the resolution («Organization of the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples”). The resolution defines constructive ways of ensuring participation of indigenous peoples for processes connected to the World Conference.
We also wish to commend the Secretary-General and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the comprehensive report “Ways and means of promoting participation at the UN of indigenous peoples’ representatives on issues affecting them” (A/HRC/21/24).
In order to ensure the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives to UN meetings for preparatory discussions towards the World Conference, Norway has contributed 100 000 USD to the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations this year. We will continue this support over the next years.
We encourage other states to contribute to the independent preparations by indigenous peoples over the next years, through regional meetings, and to the Voluntary Fund.
During the 18th session of the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur presented a report on the situation of the Sami people in the Sápmi region (A/HRC/18/35 add.2). The Special Rapporteur made several recommendations. The Norwegian Government welcomes the input and recommendations from the Special Rapporteur. The government has made an overview that summarises information regarding each of these recommendations including how the Government will follow up the recommendations. The overview will be updated in 2013 and 2014. The Sámediggi is invited to comment.
We welcome that all three UN mechanisms on indigenous peoples’ rights are addressing questions related to extractive industries and indigenous peoples’ rights.
The Special Rapporteur’s work related to extractive industries and indigenous peoples’ rights contribute both to increased knowledge and awareness of the topic. We are looking forward to his study that will be presented next year.
We appreciate that the EMRIP has taken the issue further through its report on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision-making, with a focus on extractive industries (A/HRC/21/55).
Governments and business enterprises are increasingly taking these issues on board. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights play a key role in this development. The Guiding Principles constitute an overarching authoritative global standard on how states and businesses shall protect and respect human rights.
The work of the Special Rapporteur and the EMRIP show how the Guiding Principles are relevant to indigenous peoples affected by extractive industries. They address the obligation of the state to protect against human rights violations, including those committed by business enterprises. Businesses do have the responsibility to respect the rights of indigenous peoples, and corporations must ensure that they do not contribute to violations of those rights. Human rights due diligence is a key measure in order to fulfill human rights obligations and responsibility.
The Special Rapporteur has highlighted a need for more clarity and government coherence regarding business behavior in indigenous peoples’ areas (A/HRC/21/47).
Norway has inter alia taken two steps to meet these challenges:
- An interdepartmental group has been established mandated to focus on the implementation of the Guiding Principles.
- Recently a dialogue seminar on these issues was organized in Norway between the four governments in the Barents region, indigenous peoples and mining companies active in the region. Venues for discussing these challenging issues are needed in order to find means and ways of coexistence between all stakeholders.
During the consultations on the resolution on human rights and indigenous peoples, Norway has suggested that the work regarding extractive industries must be properly reflected in the text. We seek the support of other states for the proposal, as it reflects a crucial issue for a sustainable livelihood for indigenous peoples.