Can the UN Include Indigenous Peoples in its Development Goals?: There’s An App For That

Article by Jacquelyn Kovarik at NACA: “…Last year, during a high-level event of the General Assembly, a coalition of states along with the European Union and the International Labour Organization announced a new technology for monitoring the rights of Indigenous people. The proposal was a web application called “Indigenous Navigator,” designed to enable native peoples to monitor their rights from within their communities. The project is extremely seductive: why rely on the General Assembly to represent Indigenous peoples when they can represent themselves—remotely and via cutting-edge data-collecting technology? Could an app be the answer to over a decade of failed attempts to include Indigenous peoples in the international body?

The web application, which officially launched in 11 countries early this year, is comprised of four “community-based monitoring tools” that are designed to bridge the gap between Indigenous rights implementation and the United Nations goals. The toolbox, which is available open-access to anyone with internet, consists of: a set of two impressively comprehensive surveys designed to collect data on Indigenous rights at a community and national level; a comparative matrix that illustrates the links between the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights and the UN development goals; an index designed to quickly compare Indigenous realities across communities, regions, or states; and a set of indicators designed to measure the realization of Indigenous rights in communities or states. The surveys are divided by sections based on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and include such categories as cultural integrity, land rights, access to justice, health, cross-border contacts, freedom of expression and media, education, and economic and social development. The surveys also include tips for methodological administration. For example, in questions about poverty rates in the community, a tip provided reads: “Most people/communities have their own criteria for defining who are poor and who are not poor. Here you are asked to estimate how many of the men of your people/community are considered poor, according to your own criteria for poverty.” It then suggests that it may be helpful to first discuss what are the perceived characteristics of a poor person within the community, before answering the question….(More)”.