Top UN expert on indigenous people heading to Chile

16 July 2003

The top United Nations expert on the human rights of indigenous people heads to Chile this Friday to kick off two weeks of meetings and discussions with government officials, civil society actors and indigenous community leaders.

Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people for the UN's Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, will visit Chile at the invitation of the Government from 18 to 29 July.

With this visit, his first to the country, Mr. Stavenhagen aims to better understand the situation of indigenous peoples in Chile through dialogue with the Government, indigenous communities, civil society, the UN team in the country and other international partners.

The Special Rapporteur will start his visit in Santiago, where on Friday he is expected to deliver an opening speech at the "First International Seminar on Indigenous People in the International Context," organized by, among others, Chile's Ministry of Justice and the Minister of Planning (MIDEPLAN). Mr. Stavenhagen will brief participants on the latest developments regarding the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas.

While in Chile, the Special Rapporteur's programme also includes meetings with senior government officials, regional and local authorities, members of indigenous communities, representatives of humanitarian, human rights and development non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions and representatives of the international community.

He is expected to visit several communities in the regions of Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Biobío and Temuco, as well as in Santiago, where he will meet with the national, regional and local authorities, indigenous representatives and groups directly assisting indigenous peoples. In particular, he will meet with representatives from the Aymara, Atacameño, Huilliche, Mapuche, Pehuenche and Rapa Nui communities.

The Special Rapporteur will also meet with members of the group "Comisión de Verdad y Nuevo Trato," the National Ombudsman and others, to discuss the latest developments concerning his methods of work and thematic research, as well as on the key role of national institutions in promoting and protecting the human rights of indigenous peoples. His findings and recommendations will be presented to the sixtieth session of the Commission next spring.


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