Indigenous Peoples Namibia Report: UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples released the official report about the human rights situation of Namibia’s indigenous peoples.

Read report

It was Earth Peoples that made him aware about the very detailed grievances of the semi-nomadic Himba and other tribes from the North of Namibia. We submitted among four others, two Declarations signed by all the chiefs of the Himba to him, which had been the result of 2 months on the ground work by Earth Peoples to inform the Himba and other indigenous peoples about their rights as a people, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and ILO Convention Nr 169.

But when he was going to visit Namibia several months later, we had to find out from Himba’s in Opuwo town, and not from his office, that he was going to have a meeting with the Himba in Namibia, and Earth Peoples had to rush and work day and night – trying to reach as many Himba leaders as possible to explain to them who he is, and to encourage them to travel from far distances and great costs to Opuwo town to meet him.

As Earth Peoples had already with great worry expected, the current Special Rapporteur, James Anaya, hasn’t listened well to the people in question, nor did he took the time to consult with those that could have given him during his preparation of his report more in detail information on how specific problems could be tackled, and what policies, rules and laws in the country Namibia are the reasons why certain problems won’t go away if they are not addressed.

While the much liked former Special Rapportuer Rudolfo Stavenhagen always respected and listened with an open heart and kindness to all the indigenous peoples that reached out to him, including to their chosen allies, and always took great care and many communications in trying to understand the complicated situations he was reporting on, the current Special Rapporteur isn’t such an interested person- and he is not a team player.

The reason why we find in his reports inaccuracies and sometimes straight mistakes that indicate very clearly that he doesn’t took the time, nor the care, to fully understand the most important details on situations he is reporting about. In one report we even found names of indigenous tribes missing that are directly affected by a dam, while he included names of tribes that live thousands of miles away from the actual problem area. That shows us that his work is sloppy, and an actually embarrassment to the good work and office of the High Commissioner.

One of the main problem for him to full fill his position in a good way is his widely known arrogancy.
The second – he likes to listen to states he is reporting about, and takes great pains to repeat their praise for some progressive policies or legislative steps they may have taken.
The third problem – he likes to work, if at all, with established, UN-conference hopping, World Bank and government funded big NGOs as his only “advisors” that most often have no knowledge nor direct on-the-ground contacts with the indigenous peoples he is going to report about.

In other words, Earth Peoples is looking forward to the next Special Rapporteur, that hopefully will bring back the humbleness and interest, and most important work ethics – that this Rapporteur is clearly lacking.

Regarding the Namibia report, Anaya takes also here pains to praise the Namibian government for some of the progressive policy and legislative steps it has taken, and overlooks important details. Nonetheless, his report copied some of the points from the Himba Declarations, and his report provides -but ONLY a glimpse – of the discrimination, marginalization and exclusion that indigenous tribes in Namibia are facing.

Earth Peoples will post another article that will explain what Anaya has left out, overlooked, or didn’t mention in his report regarding the situation of the Himba people -and that, sadly, even so he was clearly informed.

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