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24 January, 2017

What should a parlamentariant do for indigenous peoples?

An assessment of the situation of indigenous peoples is the first step towards parliamentary action to protect and promote their rights.

Foto: americatv

A democratic parliament is one that is representative of the social diversity of the population. In this context, indigenous peoples remain the most marginalized from key governing bodies and processes that determine political and legislative priorities.

The protection of the rights of indigenous peoples is the responsibility of all parliamentarians, not only of indigenous parliamentarians (if there are any). It is important that parliament, as a whole, promotes and protects the rights of indigenous peoples when fulfilling its roles and responsibilities, including in institutional structures, national priorities and procedures.

The establishment of a parliamentary committee dedicated to indigenous peoples’ rights is one way in which parliament can ensure it meets its responsibility to include indigenous peoples’ rights within its roles and functions. However, this in itself is insufficient, unless such parliamentary committees (or similar bodies) have the necessary resources to carry out their work effectively. This includes the capacity to prepare and scrutinize draft legislation, hold public hearings, raise questions with ministers and senior officials, as well as technical and human resources to serve the committee. The committee may also need financial resources to enable it to consult indigenous peoples in order to bring their voices and concerns into the parliamentary process.

Indigenous representation and input should be valued, encouraged and actively form part of the collective decision-making process in parliaments.
Indigenous peoples own representative institutions should also be consulted and their views incorporated into the decisions taken.

This publication is co-published by different UN agencies and aims to be a practical instrument to enable parliamentarians around the world to understand indigenous peoples’ rights better and to provide practical ideas for the implementation of the UN Declaration. It also presents good practices in relation to the recognition and exercise of indigenous peoples’ rights in different regions of the world.

EXTRACT

Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Handbook for Parliamentarians