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U.S. Statement at HRC Interactive Dialogue on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
September 21, 2011

United States Statement
Delivered by Amira Fouad

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya and the Report of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

September 20, 2011

Human Rights Council 18th Session

Thank you, Madame President.

The United States again welcomes the important work of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Professor James Anaya.  We have invited Special Rapporteur Anaya to visit the United States early next year, and we look forward to the chance to continue our cooperative relationship.

Madame President, we would like to address a few of the issues he raises in his report. However, we would also like to note that the Special Rapporteur states in his report that the United States has not responded to one of his communications.  We would like to assure the Special Rapporteur that it was an administrative oversight on our part, and that we will be responding promptly.

The United States supports the sustainable development of energy and mineral resources, including renewable resources.  We are proud to say tribes in the United States participate in and benefit from natural resources development as beneficial owners of the resources and as regulators.  Generally speaking, tribes are beneficial owners of surface and subsurface natural resources within Indian Country, including timber, energy and mineral resources.

Regarding indigenous rights in the context of extractive processes, the United States invites member states to review major federal actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  NEPA is a federal process that is socially inclusive of all groups.  Under NEPA, tribes are more than just a constituency, they are part of a larger process that addresses historical and cultural concerns and provides protection that exists independent of the government-to-government relationship that the United States has with tribes.

Additionally, the United States welcomes the efforts of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and congratulates EMRIP on the completion of its final report on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision-making.

We are especially interested in learning more about EMRIP’s work following President Obama’s announcement that the United States is lending its support to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), as explained more fully in the Announcement document that accompanied the President’s statement.”

Thank you, Madame President.