S. James Anaya, a University of Arizona Regents' Professor of Law and Special Rapporteur to the United Nations, will travel throughout the United States through May 4 to examine the situation of indigenous populations in the nation.
This marks the first mission to the U.S. by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to report on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Also during this visit, Anaya will participate in a conference and consultation organized by UA James E. Rogers College of Law's Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program, IPLP, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Registration is closed, but the proceedings will be webcast live, 1:30-5:45 p.m. on April 26 and all day April 27. Tune in on IPLP's website.
The conference, "The Significance of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," brings together tribal leaders, indigenous organizations, legal experts and American Indian studies scholars from UA and elsewhere, and also health professionals, attorneys, land managers and others.
The conference is supported by the Ford Foundation, the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and the National Congress of American Indians.
Anaya is undertaking his travels on behalf of the UN and at the invitation of the government, indigenous nations and other organizations. In addition to his visit to Arizona, Anaya will also travel to Washington, D.C., Alaska, Oregon, South Dakota and Oklahoma.
"I will examine the situation of the American Indian/Native American, Alaska Native and Hawaiian peoples against the background of the United States' endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," Anaya, who is the UA James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy, said in a prepared statement.
About 2.9 million people in the U.S. identify as American Indian and Alaska Natives alone, meaning not in combination with another race/ethnicity, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That figure represents a highly divergent population, with variation in tribal affiliation, language and geographic location, among other factors.
"My visit aims at assessing how the standards of the Declaration are reflected in U.S. law and policy and identifying needed reforms and good practices," Anaya also noted.
At each location, Anaya will hold discussions and consultations with federal and state government officials, indigenous nations and their representatives as well as civil society groups on the human rights of indigenous peoples.
At the end of his twelve-day mission, Anaya will hold a press conference in Washington, D.C., at the United Nations Information Centre and also present his findings in a session of the Human Rights Council.