Government invites UN human rights activist to visit Timor-Leste

The link between climate change and human rights will be among discussions when the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous people visits Timor-Leste next week.

Special Rapporteur Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is a human rights activist and will examine diverse issues affecting indigenous people including customary justice systems, community land issues, education, conservation and climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines.

The visit is being held at the invitation of the Government of Timor-Leste. The Special Rapporteur will meet Government and State officials, civil society, the UN and and will make community visits to discuss people’s priorities and concerns.

She will be here from April 8 to 16.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. ''Special Procedures'' is the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, which is the general name of the Council of independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms which address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

‘’I am looking forward to learning about Timorese culture and how the young Timorese nation is addressing challenges such as ensuring access to justice and the exercise of land rights,’’ Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said as she prepared for the visit.

Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples across the world experience the consequences of historical colonisation and invasion of their territories, and face discrimination because of their distinct cultures, identities and ways of life. In recent decades, the international community has given special attention to the human rights situations of indigenous peoples, as shown by the adoption of international standards and guidelines, as well as by the establishment of institutions and bodies that specifically target these peoples’ concerns. The rights of indigenous peoples are concerns. The rights of indigenous peoples are further promoted by international and regional human rights mechanisms.

In this context, the Commission on Human Rights decided to appoint in 2001 a Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, as part of the system of thematic Special Procedures. The Special Rapporteur’s mandate was renewed by the Commission on Human Rights in 2004, and by the Human Rights Council in 2007. (See Mandate).

In the fulfillment of her mandate, the Special Rapporteur:

  • Promotes good practices, including new laws, government programs, and constructive agreements between indigenous peoples and states, to implement international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples.
  • Reports on the overall human rights situations of indigenous peoples in selected countries.
  • Addresses specific cases of alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples through communications with Governments and others.
  • Conducts or contributes to thematic studies on topics of special importance regarding the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes efforts to follow-up on the recommendations included in her predecessor’s reports in relation to the foregoing areas of work.




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