NEWS 2005





8 August 2005


Rodolfo Stavenhagen Special Rapporteur
Pablo Espiniella OHCHR, Human Rights Officer
Scholastica S. Kimaryo Resident Coordinator - Chair
George K Mburathi FAO, Representative
Sihaka Tsemo OHCHR, Regional Representative
Sudeshan Reddy UNIC, Officer in Charge
Jacqueline Nzoyihera OHCHR, Programme Officer
Jennifer Joni OHCHR, Programme Officer
Mona M’Bikay OHCHR, Associate Expert
Boshigo Matlou ILO, National Programme Associate
Elizabeth Dudu UNDP, HIV/AIDS Focal Point
Abel Mbilinyi UNHCR, M&E Advisor
Jude Padayachy UNAIDS, Officer in Charge
Mary O’Shea Resident Coordinator Executive Officer



Opening remarks

1.1 The Resident coordinator (RC) welcomed the Special Rapporteur (SR) and his team.
2.0 Debriefing by Special Rapporteur
2.1 The SR highlighted the difficulty in defining the term “indigenous” in Africa . The government of South Africa ’s position is that all peoples not of European descent or of migrant origin are indigenous. However, using the UN definition of indigenous, certain groups because of their history (colonial/apartheid) have an identity of their own that distinguishes them from others.  Nevertheless, the SR highlighted that being an indigenous people in a country of indigenous peoples has policy implications.  The responsibility for defining “indigenous” is up to the government of South Africa .
2.2 The SR found that no person he interviewed felt that his or her individual civil and political rights were not being met.  However, there were concerns with regard to economic, social and cultural.
2.3 The three main issues affecting the rights of indigenous people in South Africa the SR noted were:
  • Land - The land settlement act makes a cut off point of 1913 – as in only those whose land was taken from them after 1913 have the right to claim for restitution. The Khoi-San consider this to be an injustice, as their land was taken from them in the 19th Century.
  • Access to Social Services – Social Services are to address the needs of the poorest peoples without distinction.  The Khoi-San feel that as they do not fall below the poverty cut off point, their needs are not being adequately served.  There is a need for disaggregated statistics that would show their status vis-à-vis other poor people.
  • Education - At issue is to what point are indigenous languages to be used in education, when so few people speak them.  Moreover, many parents prefer that their children be taught in English.  There is not a clear government policy with regard to indigenous languages.
  • Employment Opportunities - Indigenous peoples interviewed felt that the government was not delivering as fast as it should.


2.4 The SR will elaborate upon the findings of his mission in a report to be submitted to the Commission on Human Rights in April 2006. It will also include recommendations and proposals.
3.0 Discussion
3.1 The current CCA process offers an opportunity for indigenous rights to be included in the 2007-2011 UNDAF for South Africa .  Representatives from indigenous groups could be invited to the all-stakeholder Symposium.
3.2 The UN System in South Africa is supporting Stats SA, the government agency compiling the MDG report for South Africa . The issue of Indigenous rights should be raised in the executive summary, noting that there is no data.   That the government invited the SR, highlights that the government are interested in indigenous rights.
3.3 The 2006 Human Development Report for South Africa is to be focused on Service Delivery Optimisation. The four issues highlighted by the SR are very relevant to the service delivery debate.
3.4 Indigenous Rights are to be included on the agenda of the UNDP’s all-day meeting on service delivery optimization on 15th August 2005 .
3.5 The ILO may be undertaking a mission to South Africa in the near future and is awaiting an invitation from the Government of SA.  The SR asked to encourage the government of South Africa to sign and ratify ILO Convention 169 concerning the indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries.
3.6 It was noted that the UN System in South Africa does not have a human rights based approach to programming.  The OHCHR and UNICEF are due to hold all-staff training on human rights in September – the date of which will be confirmed.  The UN in South Africa should help the OHCHR to do its work.  There is a need to establish strategic partnerships, most notably with the Ministry for Justice.
3.7 The SR asked that colleagues provide him with any information that they may have on indigenous rights that will help him to write his report.