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Summer Session in Geneva

Law Professor continues working towards implementation of UNDRIP

July 13, 2018 — 

Robson Hall Law Professor Brenda Gunn is back at the United Nations – this time, in Geneva, Switzerland. A Research Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Gunn was in Geneva this week to attend the UN’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), and to moderate a side event involving guest panelists Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) commissioner and former member of UN mechanisms including EMRIP and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII); Paul Joffe, lawyer for the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/ Cree Nation Government; Dr Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Chair of the UNPFII; and Lea Nicholas-McKenzie, Special Advisor for Indigenous Issues, Global Affairs Canada.

Gunn, who has developed a handbook on understanding and implementing UNDRIP, and whose research is focused on promoting greater conformity between international law on the rights of Indigenous peoples and domestic law, not only moderated the panel but also contributed submissions to a Draft study on Free, Prior and Informed Consent: A human rights based approach, released this year. Gunn’s submissions were cited twice within the report.

The report came out of a resolution made at EMRIP’s 10th session held July, 2017, to produce a study on “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC) as it appears in provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). According to the report, “FPIC is a human rights norm grounded in the fundamental right to self-determination and freedom from racial discrimination, guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)” (page 3). The report states that FPIC is of particular relevance to people and nations recovering from having their lands and resources controlled by other states in the process of achieving the right to self-determination (page 4).

The mandate of EMRIP is to provide the UN’s Human Rights Council with expertise and advice of indigenous people as per the UNDRIP. EMRIP assists Member States to achieve the ends of UNDRIP “through the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of indigenous peoples.” (EMRIP website). EMRIP holds an annual session each July, in which representatives from states, indigenous people’ organizations, civil society, inter-governmental organizations and academia take part.

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