Indigenous peoples’ rights to autonomy and self-government as a manifestation of the right to self-determination
An International Seminar to assess the global status and trends with regards to indigenous autonomies is taking place in Mexico City in March 2019. This meeting follows the work developed by indigenous organizations and the organizing institutions over the last few years. In January 2018, at its annual Expert Meeting, the UN Permanent Forum was requested to compile information on indigenous autonomies and government systems in order to provide an overview of good practices, following a series of workshops held in Latin America on indigenous governments.
In October 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples submitted a report to the UN General Assembly on indigenous peoples’ governance systems and announced her intention to continue monitoring advances and challenges with regard to the topic.
The Expert Mechanism recently conducted a study on free, prior and informed consent, which was submitted to the Human Rights Council in September 2018. In that study, the Expert Mechanism argued that the right to self-determination is the fundamental human right on which free, prior and informed consent is based, with strong links to the right to autonomy and self-government, as well as the right to be free from discrimination.
The IACHR, in terms of the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples over their ancestral lands and natural resources, has expressed that the lack of access to ancestral territory impedes the exercise of their right to self-determination. The Seminar is intended to contribute to the current discussions taking place on the exercise of self-determination by indigenous peoples, not only in terms of its legal and political construction but also as a broad historical and social process. Indigenous representatives will be able to exchange experiences on positive developments and current challenges facing them in the consolidation of their autonomy models. The seminar will also provide support in terms of providing international human rights bodies and mechanisms with up-to-date information on the issue for their ongoing activities with regards to the rights of indigenous peoples.
This publication provides a brief summary of the cases which will be presented in Mexico. It has not been possible to include all of the many valuable experiences which are to be discussed in the Seminar, but we have tried to present a wide range of different cases from across the respective regions in the hope that it may be a useful tool for continuing the discussion beyond the Seminar.
The Seminar is organized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). We would like to thank the National Indigenous Peoples’ Institute of Mexico for hosting the event, and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tebtebba Foundation for their financial support for the event and its related activities.