Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples to Seek Action on Africa, Youth, Health, Education, Culture as Twelfth Session Opens at Headquarters, 20 May

20 May 2013

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples to Seek Action on Africa, Youth, Health, Education, Culture as Twelfth Session Opens at Headquarters, 20 May

20 May 2013
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples to Seek Action on Africa, Youth, Health,


Education, Culture as Twelfth Session Opens at Headquarters, 20 May


More than 2,000 indigenous participants from all regions of the world are expected to attend the twelfth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at New York Headquarters from 20 to 31 May, where members will engage with indigenous peoples, Member States and agencies of the world body.

Culture, education and health will be at the forefront during discussions, and since 2013 is a “review year”, the Forum will place special emphasis on the implementation of previous recommendations in those areas.  “The right to culture, education and health are basic rights for indigenous peoples,” said Paul Kanyinke Sena, Chair of the Permanent Forum.  “They are at the core of indigenous peoples’ right to life, our right to dignity and well-being.”

The focus will also be on the situation of indigenous peoples in Africa, according to Mr. Sena, who said they “face many challenges, the foremost of which is the recognition of their indigenous identity”.  Other challenges include dispossession of indigenous lands, displacement and competition for natural resources.  “It is time to turn the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into a reality around the world, especially in the African region,” he emphasized.

During the session, participants will also engage in an in-depth dialogue with a number of international financial institutions, among them the World Bank, African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the International Finance Corporation, in order to review the development and adoption of policies and mechanisms for the engagement and effective participation of indigenous peoples.

Discussions will also address preparations for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to be held in September 2014, as well as the ongoing definition of a post-2015 development agenda to succeed the current Millennium Development Goals.

The Permanent Forum will dedicate a whole day to human rights, including dialogues with James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights mechanisms.

The two-week session opens today, Monday, 20 May, at 11 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall, with statements by the Vice-President of the sixty-seventh session of the Assembly, the Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council and the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  Preceding them will be a traditional welcome by Todadaho Sid Hill, Chief of the Onondaga Nation.

Side Events

Around 70 side events are expected to take place during the two-week session, organized by Member States, United Nations entities, other intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum and other stakeholders.  A number of events are focusing on indigenous youth and indigenous persons with disabilities, as well as on violence against indigenous women.  Several training sessions will take place, including on effective and meaningful participation in the Permanent Forum and on special procedures dealing with human rights violations.  Issues relating to business practices and extractive industries on indigenous lands and territories also remain in the spotlight.  For a full list of side events, please visit

A cultural event with indigenous musicians and dancers from around the world — including Azar from Algeria, Ch’uwa Yaku from Bolivia and Silverclouds from the United States — will take place on the evening of Tuesday, 21 May, starting at 6:15 p.m. in the Visitors’ Lobby.


Established by the Economic and Social Council in July 2000, the Permanent Forum provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the United Nations system through the Council; raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of relevant activities within the United Nations system; and disseminates information on indigenous issues.

The Permanent Forum comprises 16 independent experts, functioning in their personal capacity.  The Economic and Social Council appoints the members, eight of whom are nominated by Governments and eight by indigenous organizations from the different regions of the world.  The outcome of the Forum’s twelfth session is expected to be a report to the Economic and Social Council, including draft decisions recommended to it for adoption.

For the first time, the meeting will go “PaperSmart” this year.  In the interests of reducing the Organization’s carbon footprint, information will be available in various digital formats — through an e-Portal — with print-on-demand services in meetings rooms.

Press conferences are scheduled on 20 May, 23 May, 28 May and 30 May at 1:30 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium.  They and all official sessions (not side events), will be webcast live at

Journalists without United Nations press accreditation, please refer to the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit for details:, +1 212 963 6934, or +1 212 963 6937.

For media queries, including interviews, please contact Martina Volpe Donlon, Department of Public Information, tel: +1 212 963 6816 or e-mail:

For the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum, please contact Nilla Bernardi, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, tel: +1 212 963 8379 or e-mail:

For more information on the twelfth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, please visit

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.