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Working with indigenous peoples to advance their rights

Graphic: Talking and listening

Supporting national human rights institutions to work more effectively with indigenous communities is the focus of a new APF blended learning course.


Supporting national human rights institutions to work more effectively with indigenous communities to promote and protect their human rights is the focus of a new APF blended learning course.

The course, which began in March, includes representatives from the NHRIs of Australia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

"Indigenous peoples are among the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in countries across our region," said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.

"That places a responsibility squarely on the shoulders of NHRIs to work in collaboration with indigenous communities to tackle the pressing human rights issues facing them."

Mr Fitzpatrick said that many APF members had undertaken ground breaking work to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, such as recent national inquiries conducted by the NHRIs of Malaysia and Indonesia on indigenous peoples' right to land.

"This training course will draw on practical examples such as these to identify how NHRIs can better work with and advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples," he said.

The course, which includes four weeks of online learning and discussions (23 March-19 April 2015), will examine the rights set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the key principles of self-determination; participation in decision-making; respect for and protection of culture; and equality and non-discrimination.

It will also look at the ways in which NHRIs can use their education, complaint handling, advisory and investigation functions to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, along with using the international human rights system to promote the Declaration and its implementation at the country level.

Participants who successfully complete the online course will attend a face-to-face workshop in Dhaka, from 4-8 May 2015, hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh.

As part of the workshop, participants will develop a set of practical "action points" to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, for implementation by their respective NHRIs.

The course will be led by Andy Gargett from the Australian Human Rights Commission, in partnership with Samia Slimane from the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Desigin Thulkanam from the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

It will draw on information and case studies in United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions, published in 2013 by the APF and OHCHR.

The APF has also developed a suite of video resources to complement the manual, featuring interviews with NHRI representatives, indigenous people and leading international experts.

Date: 21 April 2015


Image credits

  1. Talking and listening - Human Rights Commission of Malaysia