A United Nations human rights investigator says the federal government should set up a national inquiry into the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, spent the last nine days touring the country, talking to aboriginals and both federal and provincial government officials.

He says governments have pledged a number of steps to deal with the problem of hundreds of missing aboriginal women, but First Nations people lack confidence in that process.

Anaya says a national inquiry would ensure a co-ordinated response to the problem and allow the families of victims to be heard.

He says such an inquiry would also demonstrate a responsiveness to aboriginal concerns.

It is estimated there are close to 600 cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada dating back to the 1960s, a phenomenon Anaya describes as disturbing.