University of Auckland to host UN seminar on justice for indigenous and disabled peoples

by 05 Feb 2014
An official United Nations Expert Seminar on restorative justice, indigenous judicial systems and access to justice for indigenous women, children and youth and people with disabilities will be hosted by the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law next month.  It will be held at Waipapa Marae on 17 and 18 February.

The Faculty, United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have worked together to enable experts from many of the indigenous regions of the world to attend the seminar.

The event, a first for New Zealand, will focus on drafting the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ study on Indigenous peoples and access to justice as requested by the United Nations Human Rights Council.  It will be submitted to the Human Rights Council for adoption later this year.

Invited participants will contribute to the topics addressed in the draft study, including access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous people, with a focus on restorative justice and indigenous juridical systems, particularly as they relate to achieving peace and reconciliation.

Auckland co-ordinators Claire Charters and Natalie Coates are both lecturers at the Faculty of Law where Claire’s primary area of research is in indigenous peoples’ rights in international and constitutional law, often with a comparative focus.

Of Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāpuhi and Tainui descent, she has typically combined her academic research and teaching with advocacy for the rights of indigenous peoples at domestic and international levels.

Claire’s former work for the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section has been instrumental in bringing the Expert Seminar to New Zealand.

Natalie is of Awa, Ngāti Hine, Tūhoe, Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent. Her research interests are in Maori legal issues, indigenous rights and legal pluralism and she has worked as an intern at Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and as a law clerk for a Māori law firm in Rotorua.

The two women say they are excited and proud to be part of the team responsible for bringing the Expert Seminar to Auckland.

“These discussions will help determine the shape of the final draft of the study, which in turn will play a part in the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.”