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Item 8: Best Practices and Strategies for the Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
July 14, 2016

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP)
Ninth session, July 2016

A.I. 8: Best Practices and Strategies for the Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

U.S. Statement as delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council

Thursday, July 14, 2016; morning session

Thank you.

In December 2010, President Obama announced U.S. support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  In partnering with tribal leaders to address the challenges that tribal communities face, U.S. government agencies, White House offices, and others are guided by the Declaration and its emphasis on self-governance, autonomy, empowerment, and decision-making.

Of course, well prior to the President’s announcement of support, the United States has supported many of the principles and provisions of the Declaration.

In 2009, for example, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum directing all federal agencies to create plans of action for consultation regarding policy decisions that may implicate tribal interests, in consultation with tribes.

The same year, the President initiated the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, where the President, Cabinet secretaries and other senior-level staff have interactive dialogues with leaders of the 567 U.S. federally recognized tribes.  The agenda changes each year to reflect the most pressing topics for tribal leaders and their communities.  Beginning with the December 2014 conference, there has been a breakout session on “International Issues.”

The reports are published online and document federal policies and programs to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with tribes; expand opportunities for Native American youth; advance sustainable economic and infrastructure development; improve health care, public safety, and education; protect Native American lands and the environment; and promote respect for Native cultures, among other topics.  Planning is already underway for the Obama Administration’s eighth and final Tribal Nations Conference.

Other online sources of current information are Native One Stop, a central website for American Indians and Alaskan Natives to locate resources from 17 federal agencies, and a fact sheet on the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget entitled “Standing with Indian Country.”

The White House Council on Native American Affairs, established through a June 2013 Executive Order, is comprised of the heads of many U.S. government departments, agencies, and offices.  The Council allows for improved high-level coordination among Federal agencies on five focus areas:  tribal economies, health and nutrition, education for Native American youth, law enforcement and public safety, and cultural and natural resource protection and the environment.  Council members engage directly with U.S. tribal representatives at the White House Tribal Nations Conferences and elsewhere.

Thank you Mr. Chair.