On March 24, 2017, at the conclusion of its 34th Session in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Kristen A. Carpenter as the North American member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Carpenter serves as Council Tree Professor of Law and associate dean for research at the University of Colorado Law School.
The Expert Mechanism is charged with providing expertise to the Human Right Council and advising states in achieving the aims of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. Adopted by the General Assembly in 2007, the Declaration recognizes indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination, equality, and non-discrimination, and calls on states to address indigenous peoples’ rights in realms ranging from natural resource development and land tenure to freedom of expression and personal safety from violence.
Carpenter will be one of seven regional members, joining human rights experts from Africa, Asia, the Arctic, Europe, South America, and the Pacific on the Expert Mechanism.
At Colorado Law, Carpenter teaches and writes in the areas of property, cultural property, federal Indian law, and indigenous peoples in international law. She has published several books and many articles on the rights of indigenous peoples, and has represented Indian tribes, individuals, and organizations in cases involving religious freedoms and child welfare.
“The expanded mandate of the Expert Mechanism provides an unprecedented opportunity to implement the aims of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Dean S. James Anaya, who previously served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “We support Professor Carpenter’s work toward fostering the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples around the world, and foresee high levels of educational opportunities for Colorado Law students to study human rights in domestic and international settings.”
“I would like to acknowledge the generations of advocates who have advanced indigenous peoples’ concerns at the United Nations,” said Carpenter. “It is because of their work that I now have the opportunity work with the other members of the Expert Mechanism and the Office of the High Commissioner toward realizing indigenous peoples’ rights. I hope especially to highlight the experiences and needs of traditional cultural practitioners, and to help to ensure a place for indigenous lifeways in the rapidly changing world around us.”