UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Although the state of the world's indigenous peoples is alarming, there is some cause for optimism. The international community increasingly recognizes indigenous peoples' human rights, most prominently evidenced by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples themselves continue to organize for the promotion of their rights. January 2010.
"The Permanent Forum promises to give indigenous peoples a unique voice within the United Nations system, commensurate with the unique problems which many indigenous people still face, but also with the unique contribution they make to the human rights dialogue, at the local, national and international levels". Mary Robinson, Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Permanent Forum was created on 28 July 2000 by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), upon recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights, with the purpose of discussing indigenous issues within the mandate of the ECOSOC relating to economic and social development, culture, environment, health and human rights.
The objectives established under the Forum's mandate include providing expert advice and proposing recommendations on indigenous issues to the ECOSOC, as well as to other programs, funds and agencies of the United Nations, and promoting the integration and coordination of indigenous activities within the UN system.
The establishment of the Forum is an achievement attained as a result of the mobilizations of generation after generation of indigenous peoples, dating back as far as 1924 with their appeal before the League of Nations, and spanning over decades of continuous joint efforts with the United Nations, starting in the 1970's. The Forum is formed by 16 independent experts acting in their personal capacity; eight of which have to be nominated by indigenous peoples and the other eight by governments. If they wish, governments may nominate indigenous experts, and some have done so. The Forum meets for ten-day sessions every year, in New York or Geneva, or in another venue chosen by its members.
The Forum's second session took place in the United Nations' New York headquarters from 12 to 23 May 2003. The theme for this second session was "Indigenous Children and Youths". Its 500 participants discussed ways to educate indigenous children in their own languages and based on their own values, seeking to preserve the identity of each ethnic group in this globalized age. The session also examined the need to establish legislation (including the declaration on indigenous rights), which shall serve as basis for reforming national legislation in the countries inhabited by these communities.
The Fifth Session of the Permanent Forum will take place from 15 to 26 May 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York. The theme of the fifth session of the Permanent Forum is The Millennium Development Goals and indigenous peoples: Re-defining the Millennium Development Goals.
In April 2000, the Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution to establish the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues during the International Decade of the World's
Indigenous Peoples. The Forum formally integrates indigenous peoples and their
representatives into the structure of the United Nations. It marks the first time that
representatives of states and non-state actors have been accorded parity in a permanent
representative body within the United Nations Organization proper.
The fourth session of the Permanent Forum will take place from 16 to 27 May 2005 at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York. The theme of the fourth session is: “Millennium Development Goals and indigenous peoples”, with special emphasis on Goal 1: “Eradicate extreme poverty and Hunger” and Goal 2: “Achieve universal primary education”.
Statement submitted by Tebtebba to the Second Session: "The extensive proposals set forth in the report of the Forum on its first session need the utmost cooperation of indigenous peoples, member States and the United Nations system to ensure that they will be implemented. The coordinating role of the Forum will be crucial in all aspects of this process". pdf format.
The proclamation of the Second Decade for the 2005-2014 period is viewed as an indicator of the importance of the indigenous theme and about its justified presence in the international and national agendas. Furthermore, it is fair to emphasize, the necessity of fulfilling unfinished tasks, of reverting
historical exploitation, unequal and dismissive processes, and of generating and consolidating new social, economic, political and cultural relationships between the indigenous peoples, national societies and States still reticent to fulfill the contracted compromises. See more information. May 2007, pdf format.
The 150 member organisations of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee’s (IPACC) express their profound disappointment that African states were unable to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The African diplomatic group at the UN has placed the new Human Rights Council at grave risk of politicisation and domination by a few powerful states. December 2006.
It is considered that a human rights-based approach to the Goals is essential and that for indigenous peoples it is difficult to talk about development without also addressing rights to lands and resources, identity and culture, and self-determination. It is also highlighted the importance of moving
beyond mitigation measures to providing concerted support for the development choices of indigenous peoples, if pursuit of the Goals is to benefit, rather than prejudice, indigenous peoples. NGOs' report submited to the 5th. session of the Permanent Forum (Redefining the Millennium Development Goals:indigenous peoples and international financial institutions), May 2006. Pdf format.
IWGIA’s new Yearbook was launched during the UN Permanent Forum 17th May 2005. The Yearbook provides an update on the state of affairs of indigenous peoples around the world. It is a source of information and a tool for those who need to be informed about the most recent issues and developments within the indigenous world. May 2005.
This practical guide explores the procedures by which indigenous women can use the CEDAW to hold states accountable for human rights violations. Indigenous women have long been subject to multiple forms of discrimination. One form of recourse is the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women –one of the six core international human rights instruments. A recent complaints procedure permits indigenous women, in certain countries, to complain about violations of their rights. This Guide illustrates how to gain redress. By Ellen-Rose Kambel.
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Statements submitted by non-governmental organizations in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. The Permanent Forum will hold its third session from 10 to 21 May 2004.
Statement submitted by the IITC to the Second Session: "We further urge the Permanent Forum to recommend to the Commission on Human Rights and its working group on the draft declaration that any standard that it adopts not be lower than those already recognized by international law and the internationally established legal framework". pdf format.
Indigenous peoples continue to be subjected to systemic discrimination and exclusion
from economic and political power. They are denied their cultural identities, and
displaced from their traditional lands. They are more likely than others to suffer
extreme poverty, and all too often experience the human misery caused by conflict.
The UN and Human Rights; UN Charter-based Bodies and
Indigenous Peoples; Human Rights Treaty Bodies and Indigenous Peoples; The Draft
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; The Permanent Forum
and Indigenous Issues; The International Decade of the World's Indigenous People; The
ILO and Indigenous and Tribal Peoples; Indigenous Children and Youth; Indigenous
Peoples and the Environment; UNDP and Indigenous Peoples; WIPO and Indigenous
Peoples, UN web sites, Indigenous Peoples Sub Site - Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights; Parallel Events during the WCAR and United
Nations Guide for Minorities.
First Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues established at the UN: more than 900 participants—including many indigenous peoples, Member States, UN specialized agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations—came together to open dialogue and voice their views, concerns and visions during the first Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, held from 13-24 May 2002 at UN headquarters in New York. With an estimated 300 million indigenous people living in more than 70 countries worldwide, the Forum was the first time indigenous peoples were heard at such a high level at the United Nations.
The General Assembly backed protections for the human rights of indigenous peoples, adopting a landmark declaration that brought to an end nearly 25 years of contentious negotiations over the rights of native people to protect their lands and resources, and to maintain their unique cultures and traditions. Effective implementation of the declaration will be the test of commitment of States and the whole international community to protect, respect and fulfill indigenous peoples collective and individual human right. September 13, 2007.
Despite continued opposition from the United States and some other major powers, the United Nations General Assembly seems poised to adopt the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Peoples' Rights. The proposed declaration was set to be adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 but due to strong objections from certain countries, it was repeatedly set aside for further negotiations. September 2007.
A final agreement has already been reached between the co-sponsors of the Declaration and the African States last 30 August 2007. The articles on self-determination, lands, territories and resources, articles on free, prior and informed consent, articles on right to redress and reparations, and many others - which indigenous peoples have fought for in the past 22 years - have been left untouched. September 2007.
The Indigenous Peoples' Caucus has issued a communique in response to a report that hinted that few States will take procedural actions to derail the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This report contained a highly inaccurate and prejudicial interpretation of the Declaration's provisions. In response, The Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus, in an emergency meeting, affirmed their global and unanimous support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on June 29, 2006. November 2006.
The U.N. Human Rights Council, brushing aside opposition from Canada and Russia, on 29 June 2006, backed a declaration that would strengthen claims by indigenous peoples to control over lands where they live. The 47-member Council adopted this by a vote of 30 in favour, 12 abstentions and 2 against (3 absent).
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues opened its Second Session with speakers
highlighting the hazards and obstacles indigenous peoples still faced, and stressing the
urgent need to fully integrate indigenous issues into the United Nations system.
Latin America is living a time of autonomy movements, especially for indigenous autonomy. The demand became a central concern in national indigenous movements in the 1990s and intensified in the early 21st century. February 2008.
The San, the indigenous people of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, won a major victory in December 2006, at the end of the longest and most expensive court proceeding in that country’s history. The High Court ruled that the state had wrongfully evicted them from a reserve four years earlier and that they could return home. Civil society activists around the world hailed the ruling as a historic precedent for the rights of indigenous people everywhere, especially in Africa, where many governments have been reluctant to recognise the concept of indigenous rights. August 2007.
When the Belgian Defence Ministry earlier this year blamed North America for the world's worst ever genocide over its killing of millions of indigenous peoples, outrage at the claim spotlighted a topic that rarely enters the public realm but has long been accepted by many native Americans and their supporters. by Marty Logan. August 2004.
The land rights movement among indigenous peoples is strengthened by a growing sense of awareness and power among widely scattered peoples. A few international conferences have provided a forum for sharing ideas and strategies. Full autonomy from national governance is a distant dream. But enhanced opportunities for self-determination, and a renewed commitment to their land-based legacy, seem within reach for most indigenous peoples. This is according to an article on the website of the Southern African Regional Poverty Network, sent by Pambazuka newsletter.
Prior to the 2004 Forum, indigenous women held meetings globally to discuss the issues that will be on the table at the United Nations during the next two weeks. They produced many recommendations. May 2004.
In April 2003, as part of the independent review process for the extractive industries, TebTebba Foundation and Forest Peoples Programme held an international workshop where indigenous peoples presented the case studies of their own experiences of the World Bank's involvement in the Oil, mining and gas sectors and then discussed these findings with the participation of other indigenous spokespersons, representatives of the extractive industries, the World Bank and the Eminent Person and other advisers to the EIR. The following declaration emerged from this process.
There are over 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries, living in all regions of the world. The situation of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world is critical today. Poverty rates are significantly higher among indigenous peoples compared to other groups. While they constitute 5 per cent of the world's population, they are 15 per cent of the world's poor. January 2010.