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UN Human Rights Council 11th Session – Item 5 General Debate
June 9, 2009

Statement by the Delegation of the United States
Delivered by Mark Cassayre
Geneva, June 9, 2009

Human Rights Council in Session in Geneva
Human Rights Council in Session in Geneva

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States was pleased with the creation of the UN Experts Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through HRC resolution 6/36. This resolution established the Mechanism’s mandate so that it would provide its thematic expertise in the manner and form requested by the Council, focusing mainly on studies and research-based advice. At the same time, the Council resolution allowed for the Mechanism to receive suggestions from indigenous representatives on its possible work plan. The resolution also specified that the Mechanism could determine its own work modalities and suggest proposals to the Council for its consideration and approval, but that it could not place items on its agenda or engage in studies that were not also agreed to by States.

Therefore, we note with concern the “provisional agenda” for the August meeting of the Experts Mechanism. Listed on the agenda is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, its implementation and its “Adjudication, remedies, repatriation, redress and compensation.” On the Mechanism’s website is an invitation to States, indigenous representatives, and others to comment on the UN Declaration with respect to “adjudication, remedies, repatriation, redress and compensation.”

This request and the provisional agenda is inconsistent with the Mandate of the Experts mechanism laid out in HRC 6/36. In our view, there must be agreement from States for a topic to be on the agenda. We would suggest that there be discussion that arrives at a consensus on the agenda of the Mechanism’s August meeting, or that the meeting be postponed until after the September session of the Human Rights Council, so that the Council might consider a topic of work for the Mechanism, based on its proposals from its meeting last October.

The intent for the Experts Mechanism was to bring States and Indigenous Peoples together and further dialogue and research on better ways to work together and advance the lives of indigenous peoples. In our view, the topic being proposed by the Mechanism is one that will lead to divisiveness between States and Indigenous Peoples.

Thank you, Mr. President.