6 February 2014

Africa: Nobel Nod for UN Rapporteur On Indigenous Peoples


Prof Anaya's report on Namibia will be launched next week

The world is slowly waking up to what indigenous peoples have known for some time - that Professor James Anaya has made a huge impact as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indeed, he has just received a remarkable accolade - nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Anaya's name was thrown into the Nobel Peace Prize ring by Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes, a member of the Norwegian parliament, who said, "The world's Indigenous Peoples are in a particularly vulnerable position. Their livelihoods are threatened by climate change and ever increasing exploitation of natural resources."

This is particularly true in southern Africa, where the remaining San and other Indigenous Peoples are facing threats from a variety of extractive industries - as well as continuing to struggle for survival in the face of acute poverty, discrimination and marginalisation.

In September 2012, Professor Anaya made an official visit to Namibia at the invitation of the government. Working closely with the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and the Working Group for Indigenous Minorities, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Programme at the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) assisted Namibia's indigenous peoples' organisations to meet Anaya, ensuring that their voices and concerns were heard and taken into account in the final report.

Anaya's Nobel Peace Prize nomination comes just a week before the official launch - with the support of OSISA - of the Special Rapporteur's unprecedented report on the situation of indigenous peoples in Namibia.

"Professor Anaya's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a well-deserved recognition of his tireless advocacy on behalf of the world's most marginalised and oppressed communities," said Delme Cupido, OSISA's Indigenous Peoples' Rights Programme Manager. "Indigenous Peoples in Southern Africa, and globally, are at the forefront of the struggles against climate change and the plundering of the earth's precious and diminishing natural resources - and are doing so in the face of the ongoing, and often violent, marginalisation and destruction of their culture and their rights to human dignity."

After his interim report - which congratulated the Namibian government on some of its initiatives but stressed that the rights of indigenous peoples continued to be violated in many ways - the Special Rapporteur's final report has been eagerly awaited in Namibia and elsewhere.

It will be launched on Wednesday 12th February at the UN House in Windhoek. The Nobel Peace Prize committee should make sure they read it.

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