United Nations

The Expert Mechanism is composed of seven independent experts on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The experts are appointed by the Human Rights Council and are selected on the basis of competence and experience in the rights of Indigenous Peoples, due consideration for experts of indigenous origin, and gender balance (OHCHR, 2024).
The Expert Mechanism provides the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice. The Expert Mechanism examines good practices and lessons learned regarding efforts to achieve the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, focusing on establishing effective mechanisms at the national and regional level for the implementation of the Declaration (OHCHR, 2024).
Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (Villegas, 2022). The UPR provides each State the opportunity to regularly:

  • Report on the actions it has taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights (United Nations Human Rights Council, 2024).  
  • Receive recommendations – informed by multi-stakeholder input and pre-session reports – from UN Member States for continuous improvement (United Nations Human Rights Council, 2024).

The UPR will assess the extent to which States respect their human rights obligations set out in

  1. The UN Charter.
  2. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  3. Human Right instruments to which the State is party (human rights treaties ratified by the State concerned).
  4. Voluntary pledges and commitments made by the States (such as National and human rights policies and/or programmes implemented.
  5. Applicable international humanitarian law.

Special Rapporteur

The Human Rights Council's Special Procedures mandate holders are made up of “special rapporteurs”, independent experts or working groups composed of five members who are appointed by the Council and who serve in their personal capacity (United Nations Human Rights, 2024).

Special procedures undertake country visits; act on individual cases and concerns of a broader, structural nature by sending communications to States and other actors bringing alleged violations or abuses to their attention; conduct thematic studies and convene expert consultations; contribute to the development of international human rights standards; engage in advocacy; raise public awareness; and provide advice for technical cooperation (United Nations Human Rights, 2024).

These independent experts report at least once a year to the Council on their findings and recommendations, as well as to the UN General Assembly. At times they are the only mechanism alerting the international community to certain human rights issues (United Nations Human Rights, 2024).  

There are two types of Special Procedures mandates: the thematic mandates, such as water and sanitation, arbitrary detention, the rights of migrants, violence against women, torture and human trafficking, and the country-specific mandate (United Nations Human Rights, 2024). 


Lessons Learned From The Role Of “human Rights Mechanisms” In Monitoring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.

In the last two decades, these two UN mechanisms have raised awareness about the UNDRIP, and they have called for states and international and regional organizations to take concrete steps towards its implementation (Golay, 2020).

They have also pushed regional and national courts to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. Other UN human rights mechanisms, which do not have a specific mandate to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and monitor the UNDRIP, have also included references to indigenous peoples’ rights and the UNDRIP in their work (Golay, 2020).

The Human Rights Council has incorporated references to the UNDRIP in its resolutions, in the mandates that it gave to its subsidiary bodies and special procedures, and in the reports that it requested from the UN SecretaryGeneral and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (Golay, 2020).

Treaty bodies have done the same in their examination of state parties’ “periodic reports” and in their concluding observations, as well as in their “general comments / recommendations” in which they have defined the rights and states obligations in their respective treaties. They have also included the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and the monitoring of the UNDRIP in their examination of communications (Golay, 2020).

UN special procedures have included references to, or the “monitoring of indigenous peoples’ rights” and the UNDRIP in their “thematic reports”, “country visits”, and “communications” with states and other stakeholders (Golay, 2020).

At regional level, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have played a key role in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular their “rights to lands, territories, and natural resources, to consultation and consent”, and to political participation (Golay, 2020).