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UA prof. nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

James Anaya, a University of Arizona law professor, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Anaya, who has served in that post since 2008, is known for his work protecting the rights of native peoples around the world.

He was one of the drafters of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out the rights of indigenous peoples to protect their cultural heritage.

While the Nobel Committee does not release information on nominations for the prestigious Norwegian honors, a member of that country's parliament announced that he had submitted Anaya's name for recognition.

"The world's indigenous peoples are in a particularly vulnerable position. Their livelihoods are threatened by climate change and ever increasing exploitation of natural resources," said lawmaker Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes, acknowledging Anaya's work around the world.

Anaya did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Prof. Anaya's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a well-deserved recognition of his tireless advocacy on behalf of the world's most marginalised and oppressed communities," said Delme Cupido, a program manager for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. Cupido cited Anaya's work on a report on indigenous peoples in Namibia, set for release next week.

In addition to that African nation, Anaya has done work in support of indigenous rights in Central and South America.

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He was the lead counsel in a case representing the Mayagna people of Nicaragua's Miskito Coast against that nation's government. A 2001 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in that case was the first upholding indigenous land rights under international law.

In another case, Anaya and a legal team agued before the Supreme Court of Belize, which affirmed the land rights of the Mayan people. 

Last year, Anaya led a fact-finding mission in Canada, preparing a report on the relationship between the government and First Nations peoples.

In 2012, he reported on the state of indigenous peoples in the United States, finding that American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian peoples "face significant challenges that are related to widespread historical wrongs, including broken treaties and acts of oppression, and misguided government policies, that today manifest themselves in various indicators of disadvantage and impediments to the exercise of their individual and collective rights."

Anaya is the Regents' and James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the UA James E. Rogers College of Law, where he has taught since 1999. He has also taught at Harvard, the University of Toronto and University of Tulsa as a visiting professor, and been a faculty member at the University of Iowa. Before teaching, he was an attorney in private practice and for the National Indian Youth Council in Albuquerque.

He is one of 37 unpaid advisors named by the UN Human Rights Council as special rapporteurs, special representatives or independent experts on various nations and issues.

Dozens of names are submitted for Nobel consideration each year.

The Nobel Committee reviews nominations made before Feb. 1 for the annual prize; laureates are announced in October with the Peace Prize ceremony being held in December.

Previous Nobel Peace Prize laureates include President Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Aung San Suu Kyi, Elie Wiesel and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Others nominated for the 2013 honor include NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, military leaker Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, and Uruguayan president Jose Mujica, known for backing the legalization of marijuana;

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1 comment on this story

Feb 8, 2014, 3:14 pm
-0 +2

Tucson’s known as a place where extraordinary people do everyday things. You can wind up sitting next to Gabby Giffords at the bar, see Linda Ronstadt at the grocery store, or run into Paul McCartney grabbing a Thirstbuster in years past.

It’s also filled with seemingly ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things. That guy jogging up a hill on the West Side? He just might have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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