On 20-28 September 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, Prof. James Anaya, visited Namibia to conduct a study and national consultative process.
His mission was to examine the situation of indigenous peoples of Namibia in light of the UN Declaration on the Rights for Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 with the affirmative vote of Namibia. Anaya’s visit was at the request of the Republic of Namibia and was facilitated by national organisations and the Indigenous Peoples of AfricaCoordinatingCommittee (IPACC).
The United Nations Information Centre Windhoek coordinated the launch and invited the media. The Special Rapporteur Prof. James Anaya presented his findings to the media and stakeholders including the Ombudsman Mr John Walters, representatives from Indigenous Communities, the diplomatic community and other key stakeholders from the Legal Assistance Centre etc.
Prof. Anaya expressed his findings via video conference and copies of his report was availed to the media and key stakeholders.The report contains recommendations regarding the human rights of indigenous peoples of Namibia, including the right to maintain their distinctive identities and cultures, secure right to land and resources and recognition of their sophisticated traditional knowledge.
Anaya noted that Namibia has made some commendable efforts through its Constitution and legislation to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are respected and protected. “Especially in recent years, the government has entered some innovative arrangements with San tribes through which they have been able to increase their control over management of land areas”, as stated in the report. Mr. Joram Useb, Southern Africa Programme Officer of IPACC, further emphasized in his welcoming speech that he believed that the recommendations mentioned in the report would be taken seriously by all stakeholders during the implementation process to the upholding of the rights of the indigenous people.
In 2013, during the National Human Rights Action Plan Consultative Conference in Windhoek the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, said that “Namibia’s recent election as member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations is a manifestation of how far the country has come as a nation from the past of colonialism, racism, apartheid, social injustice and gender inequality and economic exploitation. This election should however not make us complacent but should rather encourage the continuation of our best efforts to become a shining example in Africa, if not the world,” he said.
The report launch was well attended and was concluded with a question and answer session with Prof. Anaya. The report is available online at : http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/country-reports/the-situation-of-indigenous-peoples-in-namibia