Binota Moy Dhamai

Binota Dhamai, Chair of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

29th July 2022

We are delighted to announce that RegNet PhD scholar, Binota Moy Dhamai has been elected as Chair of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) for 2022-2023.

Aside from studying and working on his PhD research project, Binota Dhamai wears many hats: he is a founder, a leader and an advocate for human rights and Indigenous peoples’ rights issues in the national, Asia regional and international stage. He has led a project on the promotion of core international human rights treaties, the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP 2007), applications of the UN Special Procedures, Treaty Monitoring Bodies and the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council (HRC).

“Advocating Indigenous peoples’ rights has not been just my passion and work, but my fundamental commitment for the past 20 years,” Binota shares.

As the newly elected Chair of the EMRIP, Binota says the role comes with a big responsibility especially in upholding the mandate stated in the HRC Resolution 6/36 and 33/25. He is honoured by the recognition and looks forward to working on the implementation of the mandate through different activities.

“The EMRIP or Expert Mechanism, established in 2007, is one of the most important UN mechanisms dealing with the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world and has earned the respect of Indigenous peoples’ organisations, activists, civil society organisations, academic institutions, and the human rights advocates,” he says.

“Our mandate provides various opportunities such as country engagement for particular issues of Indigenous peoples, interpretation of legal and policy matters for Indigenous peoples at domestic level, building relationship with national and regional human rights institutions and mechanisms for Indigenous peoples’ human rights, and most importantly, the facilitation of strengthening relationship between the State and Indigenous peoples at national level.”

The appointment provides Binota with an opportunity for growing leadership not only within EMRIP but also in international forums on Indigenous peoples’ rights advocacy.

“As the Chair, I need to uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, meaning in particular, though not exclusively, the observance of probity, impartiality, equity, honesty and good faith. It is important to note that the EMRIP, as an independent expert body, neither seeks nor accepts instructions from any government, individual, governmental or non-governmental organisation or pressure group whatsoever to fulfil their mandate,” he emphasises.

This year, the 15th session of the Expert Mechanism adopted the 2021 study, “Treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between Indigenous peoples and States, including peace accords, and reconciliation initiatives, and their constitutional recognition,” with a focus on human rights of Indigenous peoples.

The EMRIP will conduct a study on the impact of militarisation on the rights of Indigenous peoples and also prepare a report for the HRC on good practices and lessons learned on efforts to the implementation of the UNDRIP for the next session (2023). The report will focus on establishing effective monitoring mechanisms at national and regional levels for implementation of the UNDRIP. Between now and the next session (2022-2023), EMRIP will conduct two country missions to provide expert advice on legal and policy matters for Indigenous peoples in line with the implementation of the UNDRIP.

Binota, who is an Indigenous (Jumma - Tripura) community member from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, has been advocating Indigenous peoples’ rights for the past two decades.

“I grew up under military rule in the conflict zone of Chittagong Hill Tracts region and witnessed first-hand the systematic violations of Indigenous peoples’ rights, discriminatory behaviour, injustice, and the destructiveness of assimilation policies,” he says.

“Unable to stay idle in the face of the communal attacks, land grabbing, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killing and sexual violence towards Indigenous women, I became involved with civil society organisations such as the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum and worked towards the promotion and protection of human rights and against militarisation.”

Some of his duties as the Chair of the EMRIP include presenting the EMRIP report and proposals for the resolution of human rights and Indigenous peoples to the HRC, participating in coordination meetings of UN Mechanisms on Indigenous Peoples rights, providing expert advice and guidance in line with UNDRIP (and mandate) and leading intersessional meetings and future work of EMRIP.

“I will ensure that EMRIP’s decisions which have been taken at its fifteenth session have been implemented without any obstacle, and to represent this body to various forums and in different activities,” he says.

“I hope that given the current global and geo-political situation, Indigenous Peoples rights would be considered as the priority and would not be undermined by the government as the representative of the State.”

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet