Igorot woman activist is new UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous peoples

Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, a member of the Kankanaey tribe of Besao, Mountain Province, was appointed by the president of the UN Human Rights Council to the post, which she is set to occupy the first week of June this year.

After their organizational meeting, HRC President Ambassador Baudelaine Ndong Ella (Gabon) announced his decision on Tuesday, May 8, at the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland to appoint Tauli-Corpuz and 18 others as members of the UN Special Procedures.

The special procedures are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. It is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery and covers all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social.

“These posts (were) recently left vacant by previous mandate holders,” added Ndong Ella in a media release at the UN website.

Among the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples are to promote good practices, including new laws, government programs, and constructive agreements between indigenous peoples and states, to implement international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples.

The rapporteur also reports on the overall human rights situations of indigenous peoples in selected countries and addresses specific cases of alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples through communications with Governments and others.

In 2001, the predecessor of the HRC then known as Commission on Human Rights decided to appoint in 2001 a Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, as part of the system of thematic Special Procedures, which was then renewed in 2004 and in 2007.

Tauli-Corpuz will take over the post to be left vacant by outgoing Special Rapporteur on indigenous rights Prof. James Anaya, an American Indian.

Consultations first

When she was nominated last month for the position, various personalities, like Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, extended congratulatory statements for her appointment.

It is an honor of the Cordillerans that we have our own as a representative to the UN HRC, said human rights lawyer Jose Mencio Molintas, an Ibaloi and a former member of the UN HRC Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).

While waiting for her task to officially start on June 1, Tauli-Corpuz said she’s open to conduct consultations with various groups. “I would be happy to have some informal consultations with groups and persons even before officially assuming this post,” she said.

A nurse by profession, she involved herself to social activism by joining non-government organizations upon her graduation at the University of the Philippines, where she spent most of her prime years. She is executive director of Tebteba Foundation, a global advocacy group for indigenous people’s rights, and former chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII), a body under the UN Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc).   

Source : UBIC             


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