May 11, 2012
UNPO continues its participation in the UN Universal Periodic Review process by submitting reports highlighting the state of human rights in Argentina, Pakistan, and Ukraine as it affects indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities.
Photo by Cedric Favero
On the occasion of the 14th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR), UNPO has submitted three reports highlighting the human rights violations in Argentina, Pakistan and Ukraine. Despite international legal obligations, these states have failed to respect the rights of minority groups and indigenous people. During the UPR process, which is a UN mechanism where states and civil society entities comment on a wide range of human rights issues and present recommendations to the ‘State under Review’ (SuR), Argentina, Pakistan and Ukraine were reviewed on the state of the human rights situation in their respective countries.
UNPO’s recent UPR submissions of stakeholder reports highlighted several issues of concern that affect communities in Argentina, Pakistan and Ukraine. In Argentina, the Mapuche constitute the country’s indigenous minority that has experienced state oppression, as well as violations of property rights and resource exploitation. Despite the official approbation of Article 75 (17) in the Argentinian Constitution, recognizing the Mapuche as Argentina’s indigenous people as well as their rights to protection of their identity, culture, and to the possession of the traditionally owned lands, the implementation of the aforementioned article has failed. UNPO’s report proposes a series of recommendations to be presented to the Argentinian government at the 14th Session of the UN UPR. Amongst others, UNPO’s report urges Argentina to consider the following recommendations:
Ensure that all relevant legislation reflects the affirmation and protection of indigenous rights as protected by Article 75, paragraph 17 of the Argentinian constitution.
Consider the repeal of the December 2011 revisions to Article 41 of the state penal code, which as currently written threatens the right to peaceful civic protest due to vague language open for discriminatory interpretation.
Ensure that Mapuche communities are consulted and their concerns are addressed in a manner compliant with the principle of free, prior and informed consent before allowing natural resource extraction companies to begin work on Mapuche ancestral land.
Ukraine’s Crimean Tatars are subjected to similar episodes of violence and police abuse and their language and educational rights are blatantly violated. Despite the Presidential Decree no. 435/2008 “on additional measures to ensure the observance of the rights of citizens residing in the territory of the autonomous republic of Crimea, on the ground,” violations against the Crimean Tatars’ cultural, economic, social and civil rights persist. These include insufficient political representation, marginalization and discrimination at all levels of society and the continuing destruction of Crimean Tatar culture. UNPO’s UPR report included the following recommendations to Ukraine:
Respect for cultural rights, including construction of schools, development of quality scientific and educational material in the Crimean Tatar language, development of digital and print media in the Crimean Tatar language, registration and renovation of Crimean Tatar heritage,
Respect for religious rights, including allocation of land for the constructions of places of worship and measures for adequate protection of sacred sites,
Improve the living conditions in the Crimean Tatar settlements, including construction of adequate infrastructures, facilities and development of communications and transportation networks.
Formally endorse and ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In Pakistan, the Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan each represent ethnic minorities that have been affected by a series of issues. The UPR report submitted by UNPO outlined the alarming number of enforced disappearances, which have taken place in Sindh and Balochistan during the past years. While family members and supporters have protested against the lack of interest demonstrated by the Pakistani government regarding these incidents, no measures have so far been taken to address the issue. The Pakistani government has also failed to adequately counter the consequences of the severe natural disasters that struck the country in recent years. The areas of Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan were particularly hit, causing great levels of destruction and affecting millions of people. The government’s insufficient aid provision and support further aggravated the conditions of the ethnic minorities residing in these areas. UNPO has therefore urged Pakistani authorities to consider the following recommendations:
Ratify without reservation the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and bring national legislation in accordance with accepted definitions of enforced disappearance,
Immediately surface all disappeared persons and begin transparent investigations of each case of alleged enforced disappearance. Ensure that perpetrators are identified and prosecuted in a transparent manner and in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
Ratify without reservation the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol and consider their measures for addressing protection and humanitarian assistance when faced with natural disasters affecting indigenous ethnic minorities.
In the months of October and November 2012, the UNPO submission reports will be examined at the 14th Session of UN Universal Periodic Review. As the UPR process enters its second cycle, the status of recommendation implementation for each State under Review, including the creation of specific bodies and National Plans of Action and the participation of stakeholders will be assessed. These steps are crucial to the realization of the core UPR goal which is the “improvement of the human rights situation on the ground.” More information on the UPR process, recent UNPO submissions and the status of implementation of the UPR recommendations can be found here.
Please find each of the full reports for download.