Leading experts on indigenous rights to address Montreal audience

MONTREAL – Oct. 3, 2006 – Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the United Nations foremost expert on indigenous rights, will lead a public discussion on the major challenges facing the world’s aboriginal peoples at the Université de Québec à Montreal this Wednesday night.

Mexico’s Mr. Stavenhagen, who serves as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, will be joined by the Philippines’ Vicky Tauli Corpuz, President of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Algeria’s Mohammed Rezag-Bara, President of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights working group on Indigenous populations and communities. The discussion will be introduced by Jean-Louis Roy, President of Rights & Democracy.

Mr. Stavenhagen, Ms. Corpuz and Mr. Rezag-Bara will explore the major human rights challenges facing indigenous peoples, with special emphasis on the situations in Latin America, Asia and Africa. They will also discuss the different legal options available at the national, regional and international levels for addressing violations of their rights, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration, a product of more than 20-years of negotiations, was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in June and is expected to come before the UN General Assembly for adoption during its current session.

In 2001, the UN Commission on Human Rights mandated Mr. Stavenhagen to research and document violations of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the world’s indigenous peoples and to propose appropriate measures for remedying and preventing these violations. Since then, Mr. Stavenhagen has worked around the world in close collaboration with aboriginal communities, national governments, civil society organizations and other relevant actors in order to properly assess the extent to which indigenous rights are being respected and the measures needed to ensure that violations are prevented.

The discussion takes place Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006, from 7 PM to 9 PM at the Amphithéâtre Sherbrooke, SH-2800, Pavillon Sherbrooke, UQÀM,200 Sherbrooke Street West: Métro Place-des-arts.