Sei sulla pagina 1di 55


1 STUDY GUIDE Committee Director : Zaid Azhar


Committee Director : Zaid Azhar



1.Letter from the dais………………………………………………3

2.Committee Overview- SOCHUM…………………………….4-7

3.Topic Area A- LGBT Rights…………………………………….8-19

4.Topic Area B- Elimination of gender discrimination against Women………………………………………………….20-36

5.Topic Area C- Rights of Indigenous People………….36-54


From the dais:

Hola, Nǐ hǎo, Bonjour, Zdrastvweetye ,Salam wa aleikum and


Dear Delegates, after greeting you all in the 6 official languages of the United Nations, I, Zaid Azhar your committee director for SOCHUM at MUNiC 2011, would like to introduce myself to you all.

I am Currently completing my A Levels, and plan on to pursue a

career in the field of medicine. Apart from academics, I’ve been involved in a number of extra-curricular activities including social work, debates, sports and arts. When I’m not watching movies, you’ll find me studying, playing video games , and


find me studying, playing video games , and sleeping. I have also been actively involved in

I have also been actively involved in MUNs and even though I

started a bit late, I’ve made rapid progress from being a frightened delegate in my first intra level MUN, to being an enthusiastic delegate winning awards and finally to being a committee director. Over the course of the 10 MUNs I have attended I have also managed to win a handful of best delegate/diplomacy awards. SOCHUM, also known as the ‘Third Committee of the UN General Assembly’ has been by far, the most successful committee for me, with me maintaining a perfect record in it. Human rights and social development have been strong interests of mine and SOCHUM has enabled me to explore them in great detail.

Now, you delegates should expect SOCHUM to be a rather tough committee. When it is dealing in human right issues, it can be both complex and diverse. I would advise you to research well on the committee itself, it’s powers, as well as on development of human right issues across the globe. The topics set should see meaningful and interesting debate. And entertainment sessions depend on the progress of the committee :P. If you would like to introduce yourself or have any queries feel free to mail me at .

See you all at MUNiC 2011 then!

Zaid Azhar



SOCHUM’s place in the UN

The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM), also referred to as the Third Committee of the General Assembly, is a United Nations body designated to deal with issues regarding the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Within the hierarchy of the UN, the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee is placed as a sub-organ to the General Assembly. More precisely, it is the third of the six main committees into which the General Assembly dissolves after two weeks of general discussion during the opening of a new session in September every year. In principle, the Third Committee takes over items from the agenda of the General Assemblies, which belong to its area of work. It can then discuss them in depth and thereafter provide the General Assembly with a draft resolution.

SOCHUM’s History

SOCHUM was created in 1948 in response to the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is charged with the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the promotion of the right to self- determination. The primary purpose of this committee is to analyze and create solutions for social development problems and a wide range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues effectively.


At the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly (in 2010), the Third Committee considered 56 draft resolutions, more than half of which were submitted under the human rights agenda item alone. These included three so-called country-specific resolutions on human rights situations. At the sixty-sixth session (starting from October 2011) chaired by Mr. Hussein Haniff of Malaysia, the Committee will hear and interact with 34 special rapporteurs, independent experts, and chairs of working groups of the Human Rights Council, apart from it’s set agenda.

For almost sixty years, the Third Committee has dedicated itself to the preservation of human rights. The committee has handled a variety of topics including social development, the right to self-determination, the prevention of crime, drug control, genocide, child pornography and the rights of indigenous persons.

SOCHUM’s Powers and Scope

The General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations and is composed of representatives from every Member State. Each Member State is represented equally and gets only one vote. Voting in committees is by simple majority. The General Assembly’s powers and functions are described in the founding charter of the United Nations. All powers given and restrictions applied to the UN General Assembly via the UN Charter also apply to SOCHUM. SOCHUM is charged with making recommendations for the peaceful settlement of a wide variety of situations. Similarly, SOCHUM is responsible for initiating studies, so the committee can make recommendations to promote international political cooperation, develop the codification of international law, and promote the fundamental freedoms of all global citizens. The Third Committee must also consider and make recommendations on the


principles of cooperation in the maintenance of international peace and security, including the principles governing disarmament and arms regulation. Frequently SOCHUM is called upon to receive and consider reports from the Security Council (SC) and other United Nations bodies. SOCHUM also reserves the power to elect the non-permanent members of the SC, the members of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and those members of the Trusteeship Council. Similarly, SOCHUM works jointly with the SC to elect Judges to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Although the decisions of the Third Committee are not legally binding, the solutions and resolutions passed by this committee are extremely influential and backed by world opinion. SOCHUM’s agenda covers a large scope of social ills plaguing society. In order to operate most efficiently and effectively, SOCHUM must work with other United Nations organization in to effectively resolve the issues presented. In the past these organizations include the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO). SOCHUM works in conjunction with these organizations and uses their specialized inputs and even specifically requests draft reports when creating resolutions .


Session of the third committee in October 2010
Session of the third committee in October 2010
7 Session of the third committee in October 2010 Session of the UN General Assembly in


Topic Area A: LGBT Rights

As Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states,

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Many fights have been (legally) battled and won, such as the female suffrage or African- American Civil Rights movement, however such a victory has yet to be extended to the sexual gender minorities. Skepticism, debate, and discussions regarding this topic continue in many countries around the world, where the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is discriminated against (LGBT), are prosecuted on the basis of his/her gender identity or sexual orientation, and are not legally protected. These groups, usually minorities in their societies, are faced with widespread prejudice, discrimination and a constant threat of homophobic violence, forcing them to lead lives filled with constant fear and threat.

Many countries do not protect these minorities, yet do the opposite which fuses hate in community, such as labeling homosexual acts illegal. In 77 countries laws criminalizing same- sex relations between consenting adults remains a criminal offense (these countries lie predominantly in Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Oceania). Furthermore, in seven countries homosexuality remains to be considered a capital offence (Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and some parts of Nigeria and Somalia).These go against and are incoherent with the fundamental principles of equality and non-discrimination of international human rights standards. In many countries

the sentence means a life-time spent in prison. Such response of states translates to “bullying”, homophobic violence (“gay bashing”), verbal and physical abuse, harassment and torture in detention facilities, denial of employment, health services or housing, and in the most extreme cases, murder.


There are two principal aspects significant to the promotion of LGBT rights. The first is marriage equality, where each adult worldwide deserves the right to enter a union with same- sex in accordance with human rights laws and standards. Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that all “Men and women of full age…have the right to found a family….(and ) are entitled to equal rights as to marriage.”

However many same-sex couples continue to be forced to live in secrecy because marriage would be illegal for them. The consequences of not having the same legal rights are prevalent in many aspects of life, such as concerning the rights with children, making decisions for a partner’s behalf, and inheritances and wills. The Netherlands lead the way in 2001 when it became the first country to declare same-sex marriages legal. Since then, nine countries followed in Norway’s footsteps, allowing same-sex couples to marry nationwide: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South America, and Sweden. Civil unions and registered partnerships are recognized in many nations such as Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. A second essential step towards establishing a genuine equality before the law for LBGTs is immediate and worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and the abolition of criminal sanctions. Criminalizing people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity is a blatant violation of human rights adopted by the United Nations. Criminalization is used as a legitimization and justification for violence, torture and persecution against them. Victims remain vulnerable, have no right to legal representation to press charges or be protected under the law, and often times are arrested without further warning or notice.


Past United Nations involvement and relevant documents

United Nations began protecting human rights at the establishment of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in 2005. The United Nations Human Rights Council was created to investigate violations of human rights. Independent experts (rapporteurs) investigate alleged human rights abuses and provide the Human Rights Council with direct accounts and reports. The Human Rights Council may then request that the Security Council take action such as sanctions or involving the ICJ when human rights violations are occurring.

the ICJ when human rights violations are occurring. Logo of the UN Human Rights Council The

Logo of the UN Human Rights Council

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, marks a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, outlining the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. Many Articles, such as Article 5, “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment.”, Article 7 “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” and Article 9 “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile” continue to be constantly violated.


However the specific rights of LGBT were not addressed in this document. Since 1933, the United Nations did recognize LGBT individuals as a member of a “particular social group” and being eligible for refugee status if escaping persecution or discrimination. Both the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon have called for a worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and call for continued and further actions to counter discrimination and prejudice directed at persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Recently, a series of incidents and developments in different nations around the world have highlighted the extent and urgency of the challenge to protect the LBGT.

There are numerous countries that consistently abuse and discriminate LGBT groups based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In Senegal, homosexuality is condoned and the government punishes such sexual acts with five years in prison. Senegalese individuals have reported threats, torture and attacks, having to fear their own lives. In Uganda an “Anti- homosexuality” Bill has been drafted and which if enacted would broaden criminalization of homosexuality by introducing the death penalty for people with previous conviction, who are HIV-positive or engage in same-sex activities. In Feburary 2011, Malawi implemented a law which criminalized homosexuality among women (it was already illegal for men) and made it punishable with up to five years’ imprisonment.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is monitored by the Human Rights Committee, is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966. The 72 signatories and 167 parties commit to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and to due process and a fair trial. Although sexual


gender rights were not explicitly mentioned, a few articles do have references towards equality toward sexual orientation. Article 17, which mandates the right to privacy, specifically protects private adult sexual activity, thereby nullifying any restrictions regarding homosexual behavior. As a response to this, the Human Rights Council decided to direct further attention toward the rights of LGBT individuals. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, an international human rights charter, was ratified in 1979 under the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The resolution creates a regional human rights system for Africa, with norms and supervisory elements. One of the universally accepted civil and political rights recognized includes freedom from discrimination, and right to equality, yet it does not officially mention sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, drafted in 2006, is an outline of a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The universal guide to human rights affirm international legal standards by which all States must comply, and recommendations for governments and civil society, which relate to sexual orientation and gender identity, and are intended to address documented violence and abuse against the LGBT community. The principles were adopted unanimously by the group of 29 experts. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly, and aims to protect the rights of women against any sort of discrimination, and is relevant for cases of discrimination against the LGBT women community. The Treaty of Amsterdam was the first international treaty to recognize sexual orientation as a protected class. In the 13th Article of the document it states, “the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation”.


Also the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, proclaimed in 2000,which enshrines certain political, social, and economic rights for EU citizens, states in Article 21:“Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.”

age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.” A rally in support of LGBT rights in New

A rally in support of LGBT rights in New York City on 18 th May 2009

Human Rights Council action thus far

On June 17th, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a historic landmark resolution protecting the human rights of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender. The


resolution, introduced by South Africa, declared that all people are entitled to right and freedom regarding their sexual orientation and gender identity. This was a huge step, and the first time that a resolution was passed in the United Nations specifically condemning human rights violations concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. Before this point, since neither sexual orientation nor gender identification had been mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was often viewed full of contempt that terms regarding LBGT had never been specifically stated or agreed upon in any official or binding United Nations document.

The resolution was introduced by South Africa, Brazil and sponsored by 39 other Nations. The bill was approved by the European Union, the United States, and most of South America, while African and Middle Eastern countries opposed the resolution. The resolution includes an official study to be carried out before December of 2011 which will document laws and violent practices around the world which discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The resolution also establishes plans for a future panel discussion in the body to occur further discussing the importance of protecting people who are discriminated based on their sexual minority status.

Here's a rundown of which countries voted which way:

Backed the resolution

Argentina,Belgium,Brazil,Chile,Cuba,Ecuador,France,Guatemala,Hungary,Japan,Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay

Opposed the resolution

Angola,Bahrain,Bangladesh,Cameroon,Djibouti,Gabon,Ghana,Jordan,Malaysia,Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Uganda



Burkina Faso,China,Zambia

Bloc Positions

European Union, United States

In the western world, acceptance and even support is growing in these regions of the world. Many states are proud to be a leading role in promoting the idea that gay rights are human rights. Homosexual acts have been legal in almost all countries since the 1940s, and violence

against LBGTs is classified as hate crime often connected with extremist ideologies. Same-sex marriages or civil unions in these nations are usually legal. However there does remain a large gap between human rights treaties for the protection of gays against discrimination and mistreatment.

South America/Caribbean Islands

Acceptance of homosexuality and the rights of LGBT has been growing in parts of this region. In most of central America and the Caribbean, same-sex sexual activity is legal, yet no other rights such as marriage are granted to the LGBT peoples. In Brazil most of the legal protections available to non-LGBT are also available to the LGBT, and a type of civil union is in place. In Argentina, same-sex marriage is legal since 2010, and gays are allowed to openly practice same sex activity.

African and Middle Eastern Nations

In African and Middle Eastern Nations, the rights of the LGBT community are not supported. In the majority of nations, homophobia remains, same-sex marriage is illegal and homosexual relations are criminalized and may even be cause for imprisonment. In the large majority of


states, same-sex sexual activity is considered illegal, and punishable. Only South Africa allows same-sex activity since 1994 and marriage since 2006. South Africa bans all anti-gay discrimination by the constitution, and allows a legal sex change since 2003.

the constitution, and allows a legal sex change since 2003. The rainbow flag that is associated

The rainbow flag that is associated with LGBT rights movements

Status of Sodomy Laws:

Some countries maintaining laws which convict same sex consensual relations are:

Afghanistan, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Transgender Rights


The findings of Injustice at Every Turn, (a report by the National Transgender Discriminatory Survey) indicate specific discriminatory acts anti-transgender people are faced with in the USA. Keeping in mind that LGBT people live a life which is significantly more liberal and respected in the Americas, the findings/analysis of the oppression the transgender community struggles with is horrific. Using a sample of 6,450 transgender and gender non- conforming individuals, a synopsis of the report emphasizes the lack of opportunities, which even in the 21st century world, people were willing to give the respondents. In comparison to the general population, respondents were four times more likely to come from a household of extreme poverty.

The sample experienced unemployment twice as much as the general population and

furthermore, the rate of unemployment faced by transgender people increased with people of colour.

Respondents who lost jobs due to antitransgender/homophobic perceptions were four

times more likely to turn to self destructive measures. 41% of the respondents claimed to have attempted suicide, in comparison to the general population, 85% more would find

themselves imprisoned usually because 70% more (than the general population)

would resort to drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force accurately stated that “This report is a critical call to action for our policymakers to confront these horrifying realities by enacting protections without hesitation,". Many employers and businesses in even the western parts of the world recognize that transgender people can very easily fail to conform to the work environment and the prestige of their staff would be undermined if they employed cross dressers.

Aside from workplace discrimination, transgender people are verbally if not physically


harassed at public facilities and are usually given last priority whether it comes to waiting for a health service or public transport. In Pakistan, transgender men commonly known as ‘hijras’ are persistently harassed by the police and are turned on the street and forced to submit to prostitution to earn a living. However On January 29th it was reported that chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry announced that it was the authorities obligation to ensure that hijras “enjoy the same rights as other Pakistanis, in matters of inheritance, employment and election registration.”-The Guardian newspaper.

This was an exceptionally progressive step taken in a highly conservative society however the main issue is the implementation of these laws. The responsibility of protecting and promoting the transgender community in countries where homophobia and anti transgender bias is illicitly ignored by governments as the general population themselves do not view it as a civil rights issue.

Questions to Consider

1. What should the next steps of the body be to grant legal recognition to LGBT individuals?

2. Should counseling/education for LGBT be offered regarding deserved rights?

3. How can the protection of these rights be evenly and internationally enforced?

4. What more/what steps can be taken to further protect the rights of LBGT minority in

Nations, especially those not complying with the resolution?


Topic Area B : Elimination of gender discrimination against Women


One of worldʼs more urging matters concerning human rights are the rights of the women and in general the fight against sexual discrimination. Even in nowadays those rights are being trespassed not only in the so-called “third world” countries but also to the developed countries of the West. A major global womenʼs rights treaty was ratified by the majority of the worldʼs nations a few decades ago.

Yet, despite many successes in empowering women, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to the economic. For example, women often work more than men, yet are paid less; gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often are the ones that suffer the most poverty.

Many may think that womenʼs rights are only an issue in countries where religion is law, such as many Muslim countries. Or even worse, some may think this is no longer an issue at all. But according to a report about the United Nationʼs Womenʼs Treaty which shows how an increasing number of countries are lodging reservations, will tell otherwise. Gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and development for all of society, so the importance of womenʼs rights and gender equality should not be underestimated.


International Conventions that include women rights

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 2, paragraph 1. “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Article 25. “Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen


(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and

equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the

will of the electors;

(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.”

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Article 2. “1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to


the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.

2. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights

enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

3. Developing countries, with due regard to human rights and their national economy, may

determine to what extent they would guarantee the economic rights recognized in the present Covenant to non-nationals.”

Article 7. “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:

(a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:

(i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any

kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work; (ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;


Safe and healthy working conditions;


Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate

higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of seniority and competence;

(d ) Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays”


The Universal Declaration on Human Rights Preamble “Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,”

Article 2. “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this 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. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”.

Article 16. “(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”


Vienna Declaration of 1993 Vienna Declaration was a statement made by the World Conference on Human Rights in June 1993. Its role is to reinforce the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and United Nations Charter. The Vienna Declaration led to the founding of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. One of Declarations most important targets is to strengthen the rights of women, child against prostitution, slavery and in general every kind of discrimination. Women rights are declared in Chapter 3 (Articles 36-44) of the Declaration.


Women have historically been subjected to legal discrimination based on their gender. Some of this discrimination has been based on cultural stereotypes that cast women primarily in the roles of wives and mothers. In the patriarchal (male-dominated) societies, women have been viewed as the "weaker sex," who needed protection from the roughand- tumble world outside their homes. Such beliefs were used as justifications for preventing women from voting, holding public office, and working outside the home. In a culture that portrayed wives as appendages of their husbands, women have often been invisible to the law.

The ability of women to use the law to fight sex discrimination in employment, education,

domestic relations, and other spheres is a recent development

1980s employers and social institutions have sought to justify discriminatory treatment for women on the basis of long-held traditions.

In the 1970s and


Abuses against women are relentless, systematic, and widely tolerated, if not explicitly condoned. Violence and discrimination against women are global social epidemics. Millions of women and girls are forced to marry and have sex with men they do not desire. Husbands and other male family members obstruct or dictate women's access to reproductive health care. Doctors and government officials disproportionately target women from disadvantaged or marginalized communities for coercive family planning policies. The realization of women's rights is a global struggle based on universal human rights and the rule of law. It requires all of us to unite in solidarity to end traditions, practices, and laws that harm women. It is a fight for freedom to be fully and completely human and equal without apology or permission. Ultimately, the struggle for women's human rights must be about making women's lives matter everywhere all the time. In practice, this means taking action to stop discrimination and violence against women. The United Nations is a galvanizing force in setting new international standards and commitments to protect and promote womenʼs human rights especially those at risk of violence, or facing poverty. But the UNʼs capacity to support national implementation of these international agreements is woefully underfunded and inadequate. This has limited the potential for women around the world to fully enjoy their rights in practice.

The four small UN agencies exclusively dedicated to womenʼs issues lack the necessary status, funding and country presence to enable the wider UN system and national authorities to fully implement their obligations. Other, larger UN agencies, sometimes can make a difference, but advancing womenʼs human rights and gender equality is usually a small part of their mandate. And none of these agencies are adequately supporting the important work of womenʼs human rights defenders. In September 2009, after years of persistent campaigning by womenʼs human rights advocates around the world, all 192 member states of the UN General Assembly finally


adopted a resolution agreeing to the creation of a consolidated and stronger UN agency for women.

Violence against women

Domestic Violence

The phenomenon is thriving "in all societies, in one degree or another, and crosses the lines of income, educational attainment, class and culture. Domestic violence is a violation of human rights of women. Is violence on the man-master-prison, against women, and subsequent children. The issue of Violence against Women was first reported in Nairobi in July 1985, the UN World Conference on Women. According to the IV UN Conference on Women (Beijing 1995) Violence against women is "a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between the sexes. The violence of men has its roots in patriarchy, constitutes a mechanism of control and power over women. "

Forms of Domestic Violence:

The psychological violence: includes the ongoing and systematic devaluation of the dignity that leads to the infringement of personality. The deed and the insults, threats and extortion.

Physical violence: physical harm and murder


Sexual violence: the violation of sexual freedom and dignity, including rape within marriage.

The economic violence: acts that lead to deprivation of food and livelihoods and some property crimes to the extent that take place within the framework of partnership, withholding money from their partner.

Violence against women in western countries

In accordance with the European Women's Lobby (2003), the statistics speak for themselves and sadly list and only show the dark aspects and facets of domestic reality:

•1 in 5 women are victims of violence by a partner •95% of violence against women is at home. •In 77% of female victims of violence, the man belongs to the nearby environment of the woman. •1 in 3 women (or 1,000,000,000 women) during her life will be beaten or abused by a relative or acquaintance. •70% of female murder victims, murdered by male partners. •Among women aged 16-44 years, violence is the leading cause of death or disability, leaving behind even car accidents or cancer •20% of female victims of violence have been sexually abused as children In Europe, domestic abuse and violence against women by male partners has been tremendous proportions. Depending on the country, 25% -50% of women are victims of abuse. In all fifteen countries of the Union (before enlargement to 25), over 600 women die every year due to the sexist abuse they have suffered within the family.


28 Some posters condemning violence against women
28 Some posters condemning violence against women
28 Some posters condemning violence against women


Violence against women in developing countries

Violence against women is a problem in some cases frightening dimensions. In some rudimentary health centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo arrive, according to the testimony of doctors, women, victims of the new trend of "sexual terrorism”, victims of repeated rapes and constant abuse. In theory, after the 2006 elections, democratic Congolese tribes are trying through their respective practices to demonstrate their sovereignty and the international community sends volunteers and quiet sleep.

Combatants in conflicts, like in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and Rwanda, have raped women as a weapon of war without consequence. Men in Pakistan, South Africa, Peru, Russia, and Uzbekistan beat women in the home at astounding rates. Women from Ukraine, Moldova, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Burma, and Thailand are bought and sold, trafficked to work in forced prostitution. In Guatemala, South Africa, and Mexico, women's ability to enter and remain in the work force is obstructed. Women in Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia face government-sponsored discrimination that renders them unequal before the law.

Sexual Discrimination

Gender equality is a fundamental human right and a key aim of any modern democratic country. UN vision is a society in which men and women share equally the assets, liabilities and rights, work, politics, power, leisure, care, family and personal life. A society where men and women decide what to study, what will work, how many kids will do, whether to engage in politics, without the burden of gender stereotypes which prescribed occupations, fees, duties and emoluments, even the whole activity of everyday life. Today, the unequal conditions of life and work of men and women are exacerbated


because of the severe economic crisis at global and national level. In times of crisis, the principle of equality is not a luxury but an essential component of development, social and cultural policy which seeks to escape from the crisis.

The crisis is always the most vulnerable groups of population, where women are overrepresented. Large groups of women facing multiple discrimination, when discrimination based on sex are intertwined with and deepen from discrimination due to forms of social inequality (social class, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, remote residence, etc.).

Intersectional discrimination

The idea of intersectionality seeks to capture both the structural and dynamic consequences of the interaction between two or more forms of discrimination or systems of subordination. It specifically addresses the manner in which racism, patriarchy, economic disadvantages and other discriminatory systems contribute to create layers of inequality that structures the relative positions of women and men, races and other groups. Moreover, it addresses the way that specific acts and policies create burdens that flow along these intersecting axes contributing actively to create a dynamic of disempowerment.

Forms of sexual discrimination:

“direct discrimination”: where a person is treated less favorably than another one which has been or will be in a similar situation, cause to his/her sex.


"indirect discrimination”: where an apparently neutral provision would put at a disadvantage representatives one sex compared with persons of the opposite sex unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by legitimate aim and the means for achieving this objective is appropriate and necessary;

"harassment”: where an unwanted conduct related the sex of a person with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of the person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment;

"Sexual harassment”: where any form unwanted verbal, non verbal or physical conduct of a sexual character with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular by creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.


UN organs which have been created

The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. The Commission was established by ECOSOC resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946 with the aim to prepare recommendations and reports to the Council on promoting women's rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. The Commission also


makes recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women's rights.

Womenwatch is an UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, created in March 1997. It was founded by the former entities UN Division for the Advancement of Women, United Nations Development Fund for Women and United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women .

Womenwatch was showcased at the World Summit on the Information Society Tunis in 2005 as an example of successful inter-agency collaboration and networking within the United Nations. Recently, Womenwatch's social media-connected UN gender equality news feed was included in a best practice exhibition of innovative tools for information sharing during the 2010 ECOSOC High-level Segment at UN Headquarters in New York.

The Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is the newest international advisory committee of the UN. Headquartered in New York and meets twice ayear, in January and in July, for a period of about three weeks. The Commission of this international advisory body (CEDAW) is composed of 23 experts acting independently, and individual capacity, that is, not as representatives of countries that had been proposed. Responsibilities of the committee are:

•Consideration of individual complaints by Member States. •Consideration of state reports submitted by Member States of the Convention and the issue of comments thereon. •The issue of "general recommendations" interpretive guidance concerning case law.


•Taking such measures to avoid irreparable damage to victims. •Investigation on the alleged violations by States - States.

Conventions specialized on women rights

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women In 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Described as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on 3 September 1981. The seven UN member states that have not signed the convention are Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga, and the United States. The United States has signed, but not yet ratified. The Convention defines discrimination against women in the following terms:

“Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

It also establishes an agenda of action for putting an end to sex-based discrimination for which states ratifying the Convention are required to enshrine gender equality into their domestic legislation, repeal all discriminatory provisions in their laws, and enact new provisions to guard against discrimination against women. They must also establish tribunals and public institutions to guarantee women effective protection against discrimination, and take steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination practiced against women by individuals, organizations, and enterprises.

Other protocols that have been added latter on in order to strengthen the Convention:


•Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW-OP) •Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women

The Beijing Platform for Action The United Nations convened the Fourth World Conference on Women on 4-15 September 1995 in Beijing, China. Delegates had prepared a Declaration and Platform for Action that aimed at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women. This outcome of the Beijing Conference is an agenda for women's empowerment. It aims at accelerating the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women. It deals with removing the obstacles to women's public participation in all spheres of public and private lives through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action were adopted by consensus on 15 September 1995. The Declaration embodies the commitment of the international community to the advancement of women and to the implementation of the Platform for Action, ensuring that a gender perspective is reflected in all policies and programmes at the national, regional and international levels. The Platform for Action set out measures for national and international action for the advancement of women over the five years until 2000. The Platform Action highlighted the equal access of women and girls to education and employment as part of the global policy framework for womenʼs human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Platform confirmed education as a human right and an essential tool for achieving the goals of equality, development and peace. Governments were urged to eliminate disparities between women and men in access to education and educational outcomes at all levels and in all forms of education, including primary, secondary and tertiary education, vocational training, adult literacy and lifelong


learning, in line with the outcome of the 1990 World Conference on Education for All.

Also, The Platform called on Governments and all stakeholders to increase womenʼs

access to and retention in science and technology, including by adapting curricula and

teaching materials and by increasing the share of women teachers in scientific and

technological disciplines at all levels of education, and to help advance opportunities for

women in science and technology. Emphasis was placed on the need to promote gender-

sensitive and women-centered health research, treatment and technology, to link traditional

and indigenous knowledge with modern medicine, as well as to create training, research and

resource centers that disseminate environmentally sound technologies to women.

Questions to consider:

1) How the issue of violence against women be tackled on a worldwide scale?

2) How can effective and adequate participation of women in politics and various other fields be ensured?

3) How can women surpass the difficulties they have to face in a male-dominant society in order to be involved in politics and other various fields?

4) How can awareness of women rights issue be spread in conservative societies that do not allow women access to even basic human rights?

5) What legislation can SOCHUM suggest to the governments of it’s member countries to achieve gender equality in all walks of life?


Topic Area C : Rights of Indigenous People

Who are Indigenous people?

There does not seem to be one definitive definition of indigenous people, but generally indigenous people are those that have historically belonged to a particular region or country, before its colonization or transformation into a nation state, and may have differentoften uniquecultural, linguistic, traditional, and other characteristics to those of the dominant culture of that region or state. Indigenous peoples are the inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to other people and to the environment. They have a special relation to and use of their traditional land. Their ancestral land has a fundamental importance for their collective physical and cultural survival as peoples. Moreover they hold their own diverse concepts of development, based on their traditional values, visions, needs and priorities. Indigenous peoples have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.

In some parts of the world, there are very few indigenous people, while in other parts, they may number into the hundreds of thousands, even millions. It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific, they are the descendants - according to a common definition - of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived. The new arrivals later became dominant through conquest, occupation, settlement or other means. Indigenous People worldwide number between 300-500 million, embody and nurture 80% of the world’s cultural and biological diversity, and occupy 20% of the world’s land surface . The Indigenous People of the world are very diverse. They form a spectrum of humanity, ranging from traditional hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers to legal scholars. Indigenous Peoples are concerned


with preserving land, protecting language and promoting culture. Some Indigenous Peoples strive to preserve traditional ways of life, while others seek greater participation in the current state structures. Like all cultures and civilizations, Indigenous Peoples are always adjusting and adapting to changes in the world.

Among the indigenous peoples are those of the Americas (for example, the Lakota in the USA, the Mayas in Guatemala or the Aymaras in Bolivia), the Inuit and Aleutians of the circumpolar region, the Saami of northern Europe, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia and the Maori of New Zealand . These and most other indigenous peoples have retained distinct characteristics which are clearly different from those of other segments of the national populations. Over the years, many groups of people have been wiped out, either by diseases of colonizing peoples, or through policies of extermination. Those indigenous societies that remain today are predominantly subsistence-based (i.e. farming or hunting for food for immediate use), and non-urbanized, sometimes nomadic.

for immediate use), and non - urbanized, sometimes nomadic. Map showing location of indigenous population around

Map showing location of indigenous population around the world.


Despite their cultural differences, the various groups of indigenous peoples around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. Indigenous peoples around the world have sought recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to their traditional lands, territories and natural resources; yet throughout history, their rights have been violated. Indigenous peoples are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world today. Indigenous peoples often have much in common with other neglected segments of societies, i.e. lack of political representation and participation, economic marginalization and poverty, lack of access to social services and discrimination. Despite their cultural differences, the diverse indigenous peoples share common problems also related to the protection of their rights. They strive for recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect the rights of the world's indigenous peoples.

Considering the diversity of indigenous peoples, an official definition of “indigenous” has not been adopted by any UN-system body5. Instead the system has developed a modern understanding of this term based on the following:

• Self- identification as indigenous peoples at the individual level and accepted by the community as their member.

• Historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies

• Strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources

• Distinct social, economic or political systems

• Distinct language, culture and beliefs


• Form non-dominant groups of society

• Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities.

As defined by the United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are

“… those which having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop, and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.”

According to the UN the most fruitful approach is to identify, rather than define indigenous peoples. This is based on the fundamental criterion of self-identification as underlined in a number of human rights documents. The term “indigenous” has prevailed as a generic term for many years. In some countries, there may be preference for other terms including tribes, first peoples/nations, aboriginals, ethnic groups, adivasi, janajati. Occupational and geographical terms like hunter-gatherers, nomads, peasants, hill people, etc., also exist and for all practical purposes can be used interchangeably with “indigenous peoples”. In many cases, the notion of being termed “indigenous” has negative connotations and some people may choose not to reveal or define their origin. Others must respect such choices, while at the same time working against the discrimination of indigenous peoples .


41 An Indigenous tribe in Brazil What Problems do the Indigenous People face? Despite international recognition

An Indigenous tribe in Brazil

What Problems do the Indigenous People face?

Despite international recognition and acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the fundamental rights of all human beings, in practical fact Indigenous Peoples’ human rights remain without specifically designated safeguards. To this day, Indigenous People continue to face serious threats to their basic existence due to systematic government policies. In many countries, Indigenous People rank highest on such underdevelopment indicators as the proportion of people in jail, the illiteracy rate, unemployment rate, etc. They face discrimination in schools and are exploited in the workplace. In many countries, they are not even allowed to study their own languages in schools. Sacred lands and objects are plundered from them through unjust treaties. National governments continue to deny Indigenous People the right to live in and manage their traditional lands; often implementing policies to exploit the lands that have sustained them for centuries. In some cases, governments have even enforced policies of forced assimilation in efforts to eradicate Indigenous Peoples, cultures, and traditions. Over and over,


governments around the world have displayed an utter lack of respect for Indigenous values, traditions and human rights.

In international discussions on the protection and promotion of Indigenous Peoples' human rights, some States have argued that a more conscientious application of human rights standards would resolve the issue. On the other hand, Indigenous People argue that such international human rights standards have consistently failed to protect them thus far. What is needed, they argue, is the development of new international documents addressing the specific needs of the world’s Indigenous People. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is designed to protect the human rights of all individual human beings, international law concerning collective human rights remains vague and can fail to protect the group rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous people have often found their lands and cultures overridden by more dominant societies. During the era of European colonial expansion and imperialism, it was common for Europeans to think of themselves as more superior over others.

Many Europeans at that time saw native peoples from regions such as Africa, Asia and the Americas as “primitives,” or “savages” to be dominated. This would help justify settlement and expansion into those lands, and even slavery. Without civilization these people could be regarded as inferior, and if seen as “non-people” then European colonialists would not be impeding on anyone else’s territory. Instead, they would be settling “virgin territory” (sometimes “discovered”) overcoming numerous challenges they would face with much courage.


43 An Indigenous tribe in Orissa India, protesting against expansion of state in their territory Political

An Indigenous tribe in Orissa India, protesting against expansion of state in their territory

Political Discrimination

Indigenous peoples suffer from varying degrees of political discrimination. The most common issue is the lack of self-determination, or a group’s right to control its own territory, culture and social norms. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all people have the right to “determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

But many governments do not consider the rights of indigenous people a priority and fail to let them voice their own concerns or develop their own political or social institutions. Governments also discriminate on the basis of recognition. If an indigenous group has its own set of laws and codes of conduct, they are rarely recognized by the state, even within the borders of traditionally owned territory. Furthermore, some governments refuse to recognize indigenous peoples as even being citizens of the state. This is often used to justify mistreatment or abuse. If indigenous peoples are not citizens, they have no standing under the law and lack legal defense.


The lack of self-determination and legal recognition is closely linked to disenfranchisement. When a group becomes disenfranchised, it loses its independence. Disenfranchised people lack the privileges afforded to citizens, such as political representation. Non-citizens are unable to vote in elections and have no way of affecting or reacting to the actions of their government. Even in countries where indigenous peoples are given citizenship and the right to vote, they tend to lack the voting muscle to put a representative in office. Districting laws, or those that draw the boundaries for voting areas, can also discriminate against them. For indigenous peoples that live in rural areas, it can even be impossible to reach a voting center or to receive news about upcoming elections.

Finally, many indigenous peoples do not speak the languages of the dominant population, making it difficult for them to make informed decisions based on media sources. Even just reading a voting ballot itself can be difficult. Therefore, indigenous groups face significant challenges in participating in the political system and convincing governments to acknowledge their interests.

Social Discrimination

In addition to political discrimination, indigenous groups also face social discrimination. In some cases, native populations have faced the threat of genocide at the hands of their own governments. In other cases, citizens of a nation see indigenous groups as backward or uneducated, since they have not accepted modern ways of life. In situations such as these, racism can quickly be directed at indigenous groups.

As a result of racism, indigenous groups can be denied access to proper medical care and remedies. At the same time, without these services, these people are not able to overcome disease. As a result, the dominant society may continue to look down on them. In searching for work also, indigenous people must often overcome language barriers and employers’


skepticism that they are capable of working outside their community. But as more indigenous people are denied work, society may see the entire group as lazy or incapable of finding jobs. Although indigenous peoples possess culturally rich traditions and distinct social, economic

and political institutions, they and their beliefs are in danger of being eliminated. In order to defend their own rights, indigenous groups must be able to participate in mainstream political systems and have national governments acknowledge their interests.

International Instruments for the Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights

Not all international instruments are legally binding treaties. For example, some of the most important human rights instruments are declarations. A declaration does not have any legal power to enforce compliance, but rely purely on the moral weight it carries.

Indigenous Peoples' rights overlap with many other human rights. Many important Indigenous Peoples' rights are not framed in specific Indigenous Peoples' rights treaties, but are part of more general treaties, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

United Nations

Human Rights Council adopts Declaration in June 2006

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).

Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 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:

Part 1. Fundamental Rights Part 2. Life and Security Part 3. Culture, Religion, and Language Laws Part 4. Education, Media, and Employment Part 5. Participation and Development Part 6. Land and Resources Part 7. Self Government and Indigenous Part 8. Implementation Part 9. Minimum Standards

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.

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)

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)

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)


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.

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)

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.

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)

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)

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)

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))

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) 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)

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)

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”.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

United Nations Organs for Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights


The United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, a subsidiary organ of the Sub- Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (is the first and only UN body involved exclusively with matters concerning the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. It reviews national developments concerning the promotion and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ human rights and develops international standards for Indigenous Peoples’ human rights and freedoms. The Working Group also undertakes studies on a variety of issues

affecting Indigenous Peoples. Nearly 700 persons regularly attend the Working Group sessions, including observers for Governments, Indigenous Peoples, non-governmental organizations, and scholars.

In 2000, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the six main organs of the United Nations, established the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to consider a wide range of issues affecting Indigenous Peoples. The Forum, which includes eight Indigenous experts, is the first and only international body in the United Nations that has Indigenous Persons as members. It meets once a year for ten working days and submit annual reports to the Economic and Social Council. The first meeting was May 13-24, 2002. The Permanent Forum serves as an advisory board to the Economic and Social Council, discussing Indigenous issues relating to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health, and human rights. From these discussions, the Forum provides expert advice and recommendations to the Council, raises awareness of Indigenous issues within the UN system, and prepares and disseminates information on Indigenous issues.

This Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights meets once a year and is responsible for reviewing and debating the draft Declaration. The Declaration will be non-binding for States, however, it will serve as a powerful statement of universally accepted norms as it will


be adopted by consensus of all member states of the UN and will provide a strong basis for arguing for greater legal protection for indigenous rights in many countries.

Rodolfo Stavenhagen was appointed as the first Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples on 24 April 2001. His mandate is as follows: to gather information on violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, to formulate recommendations to prevent and remedy such violations and to work together with other experts of the UN Commission on Human Rights and of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. The Rapporteur cooperates closely with the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (and the Working Group on Indigenous Populations.

Recommendations for formulating a resolution

Delegates should address the following when creating draft resolutions:

• Ensuring that indigenous groups can participate in society without giving up their

cultures or beliefs;

• Recommending ways to increase tolerance for indigenous cultures;

• Recommending ways to safely incorporate indigenous peoples into mainstream society;


• Outlining ways to incorporate indigenous peoples views into global decision-making.


1. Does your country have an indigenous population? If so, what is it?

2. Has your country ever had conflict with indigenous populations?


4. Has your country ratified ILO Convention 169 or the Convention on the Elimination of All

Forms of Racial Discrimination? Why or why not?

5. What actions has your country taken to incorporate and respect indigenous communities?

6. What else can the international community do to respect indigenous rights while

promoting development?

Further Sources For research: