Maori Party welcomes new UN Special Rapporteur
Maori Party welcomes new UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights
Press statement, Hon Tariana Turia 31 March 2008
The Maori Party has welcomed the appointment of James Anaya as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of fundamental freedoms and human rights of indigenous people.
Co-leader Hon Tariana Turia said this will be the first time an indigenous person has held this position.
“The Special Rapporteurs of the UN system bring an international perspective, free of local bias, to the issues they investigate under their mandate,” she said.
“The importance of this particular position for tangata whenua, and all New Zealanders, was highlighted by the visit of James Anaya’s predecessor, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, to investigate the treaty settlements process; the Foreshore and Seabed Act; policies designed to reduce social inequalities; education, housing and health care for tangata whenua; and the cultural revitalization of Maori.
Rodolfo Stavenhagen’s report found the confiscation of foreshore and seabed to have breached the human rights of tangata whenua – something many local experts apparently found difficult to recognise – and described “the underlying institutional and structural discrimination that Maori have long suffered”. He recommended more resourcing for the Waitangi Tribunal; better support for Maori education; and he encouraged political and public leaders not to use language that may incite racial or ethnic intolerance.
“Rodolfo Stavenhagen was a staunch advocate for indigenous peoples, and we salute his contribution to the UN over many years. James Anaya’s appointment this week is a sign of the growing number of indigenous people who have become world experts in a wide range of fields,” said Mrs Turia.
“Professor Anaya is considered a pre-eminent expert on indigenous peoples in international law. He has been a long-standing participant in meetings on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so we can have full confidence in his opinions and advice to the United Nations,” said Mrs Turia.
(See attached CV.)
S. JAMES ANAYA is the Samuel M. Fegtly Professor of Law at the University of Arizona, where he teaches and conducts research in the areas of international law and organizations, constitutional law, and issues concerning indigenous peoples.
He received his B.A. from the University of New Mexico (1980) and his J.D. from Harvard (1983). Among his numerous publications is his book, Indigenous Peoples in International Law (Oxford University Press, 1996). Professor Anaya was on the law faculty at the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1999, and he has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, the University of Toronto, and the University of Tulsa.
Prior to becoming a full time law professor, he practiced law in Albuquerque, New Mexico, representing Native American peoples and other minority groups in regard to land, voting rights, and civil rights issues. He has also been an Associate Justice for the Court of Appeals for the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, and has represented Indigenous groups from many parts of North and Central America before courts and international organizations.
He serves as special counsel to the Indian Law Resource Center, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization with consultative status at the United Nations, and in that capacity he successfully litigated the landmark Indigenous land rights case of Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.