Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Sixth Session, United Nations, Geneva, 8-12 July 2013
Notes provided by Foundation for GAIA and taken by Jordi Mallarach Parés
ALTA Outcome Document
The ALTA Outcome Document is the result of the preparatory meeting in Alta, Norway, for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014. As the Special Rapporteur James Anaya noted, the ALTA document brings four major opportunities: 1) It contributes to new measures for direct participation of Indigenous Peoples 2) It advances UN system in the promotion of rights of Indigenous Peoples 3) It promotes action at national and local levels to secure rights of Indigenous Peoples 4) It creates the opportunity for celebrating the participation of Indigenous Peoples.
Furthermore, the Indigenous Global Coordinating Group (GCG) laid emphasis on the importance of the four major themes contained in the ALTA document: 1) Land, territories, resources, oceans and water 2) United Nations system action for the implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples 3) Implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples 4) Indigenous Peoples priorities for development with free, prior and informed consent. They also pointed out that the ALTA document includes rights to land, air, water and ice, including Indigenous Territories and the resources within them. That said, the Indigenous Global Coordinating Group (GCG) remarked that the only states to participate in the ALTA conferences were Norway, Finland and Sweden.
As for the legitimacy of the ALTA document, the Special Rapporteur James Anaya pointed out its high level of legitimacy, as did The New Zealand Human Rights Commission, for including the participation of all seven indigenous regions.
Numerous countries openly expressed their support for the ALTA document, including Denmark, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Bolivia. The Comisión Jurídica para el Autodesarrollo de los Pueblos Originarios Andinos also fully endorsed the document, as did the Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus, the Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, the Indigenous Peoples Organizations Network of Australia, the The Sami Parliament of Norway and the International Indian Treaty Council. A number of them argued that the document should be consider an official United Nations (UN) document, and serve as the guideline for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014, as well as the framework for the final document emanating from the World Conference. The International Indian Treaty Council stressed that neither the World Conference nor the ALTA document should be used in any way by any member state to limit or diminish the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Many countries informed that they had already held preparatory meeting for the World Conference, such as the Asia Caucus, Bolivia and the Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia. Mexico and African representatives also informed they would host a regional preparatory meeting for the world conference.
Various countries and organizations showed their interest in the celebration of regional preparatory meetings, among them Peru and Finland, who defined them as “essential”. Finland also voiced that the World Conference should produce an action-oriented document. In this sense, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stressed that the ALTA document should have the widest and broadest interpretation possible in relation to the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as recommending full participation of Indigenous Peoples in all meetings up to, and including, the World Conference, recommendation that was echoed by the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council. The Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee expressed their hope that the World Conference would help further Africa’s participation. They also encouraged the African Union to create a platform for the defense of Indigenous Peoples within the African continent. The United States of America expressed their view that it is important to have another input mechanism for indigenous people who could not participate in the elaboration of the ALTA document.
As for the World Conference preparation, the International Indian Treaty Council and Bolivia requested The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) and the Human Rights Council (HRC) to take steps in helping with the preparation of the World Conference. Norway pledged 150.000$ to the voluntary fund for the preparation of the World Conference, and Australia said they would contribute 100.000$ for the same purpose.
Finally, the Panel of Experts noted an overwhelming support for the ALTA document and the general wish of participants for EMRIP and the HRC to encourage states in helping Indigenous Peoples with preparatory meetings leading up to the World Conference. The Chair brought attention to the participation of disabled Indigenous Peoples in the ALTA conference.