United Nations Special Rapporteur wraps up regional consultations
WASHINGTON—On March 3, United Nations Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz reached the last stop on her 10-day Indigenous human rights mission to the United States. Tauli- Corpuz, as a independent expert of the UN Human Rights Council, monitors, reports, and advises on the present conditions of human rights in Indigenous communities around the world.
On this specific mission, Tauli-Corpuz traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico; Window Rock, Arizona; Boulder, Colorado; Washington, D.C; and Bismarck, North Dakota. During each visit, the UN Special Rapporteur prioritized meeting and listening to the testimonies of American Indian tribal leaders and individual and presentations from civil society organizations working on issues related to Indigenous peoples’ rights. While in D.C, Tauli-Corpuz met with federal government and Congressional representatives.
The driving purpose of the mission was to discuss issues on energy development. In Indian Country, these issues entail extractive industries (oil, coal, natural gas), renewable energy, and the environmental impacts of such industries.
The National Council of American Indians hosted the meeting that took place March 2 from 9 a.m., - 10:30 a.m. A variety of leadership and representatives from Indigenous governing institutions and non-governmental advocacy groups, along with Indigenous peoples, were in attendance including the Navajo Nation Washington Office, National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund, and the Association of American Indian Affairs.
Topics discussed were the Violence Against Women Act, and the continuation and severity of sexual assault and murder crimes committed against Indigenous women. Which led to discussions of jurisdiction and cooperation with federal authorities to deal with these issues, and others.
Tauli-Corpuz acknowledged more than the importance of “meaningful consultations” between federal and tribal authorities. She believes that there should be explicit and clear guidelines for what consultations should look like and aim to achieve. Tauli-Corpuz also observed and was perplexed by the many lucrative extractive industries on Native American land that counters sheer poverty and lack of basic resources on the same reservations. On that note, she also spoke briefly on the terrible and adverse effects uranium mining has had on the Navajo Nation.
The UN Special Rapporteur’s mission ended today, March 3, as she held a press conference on her preliminary findings. The press conference, strictly limited to journalists, was held at the United Nations conference room. A full report and recommendations can be expected within several months.