New York: Work has begun on a new year-long United Nations study aimed at helping the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people achieve their right to education. The study was launched at the first session of the UN Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which concluded in Geneva on Friday.
The meeting adopted a number of proposals to the Council, including the participation of indigenous peoples in sessions of the Council and UN human rights treaty bodies, and a proposal that the General Assembly broaden the mandate of the UN Voluntary Fund to support such participation. The body is to hold its second meeting in 2009.
Addressing the more than 300 participants at the inaugural meeting, the vast majority of them indigenous people, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang urged the experts to consider ways to contribute to the promotion and implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through its research-based advice and studies.
The non-binding Declaration adopted by the General Assembly a year ago sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.
It emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.-UN News Service