More than 1,000 indigenous participants from all over the world will be at United Nations Headquarters from 24 April to 5 May to attend the sixteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body of the Economic and Social Council tasked with discussing indigenous issues relating to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The main theme of this year’s session will be the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the most comprehensive international instrument on indigenous peoples’ rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 September 2007. The landmark document embodies global consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples, including the rights to self-determination, traditional lands, territories and resources, education, culture, health and development.
“The Declaration has improved the lives of indigenous peoples, and we have had some major advances since its adoption,” said Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, incoming Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. ”Some countries have taken constitutional and legislative measures to recognize the rights and identity of indigenous peoples, yet, we also continue to witness displacement, development aggression and systemic violence — in particular against indigenous women and youth,” she stated. “We must take concrete action to implement the Declaration as the minimum standard for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.”
A high-level event on the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration, convened by the President of the seventy-first session of the General Assembly, will take place on Tuesday, 25 April, in the General Assembly Hall, providing a key opportunity for Member States, United Nations entities and indigenous representatives to highlight achievements and challenges in putting into effect the United Nations Declaration.
The Permanent Forum will also examine issues related to indigenous women and youth, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the follow-up to the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Human rights and the issues faced by indigenous human rights defenders will feature prominently in the dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Monday, 1 May.
The session will open on Monday, 24 April, at 11 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall, with the ceremonial sounding of a conch, a traditional instrument played by Mónica Michelena Díaz from Charrúa, Uruguay, and a ceremonial welcome by the traditional Chief of the Onondaga Nation, Todadaho Sid Hill.
The following are expected to address the opening: a Vice-President of the General Assembly; Cristián Barros Melet (Chile), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council; Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine (Mali), Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women); and Carolyn Bennett, Minister for Indigenous and Northern Affairs of Canada.
More than 100 side events are expected to take place during the two-week session, organized by indigenous peoples’ organizations, United Nations Member States, United Nations entities, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. The full list of side events will be published at bit.ly/UNPFII16.
A cultural event with a performance by K’ala Marka, an Aymara musical group from Bolivia presenting contemporary music with traditional rhythms, will take place on Tuesday, 25 April, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Visitors’ Lobby of the United Nations.
Globally, indigenous peoples make up less than 5 per cent of the world's population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They live across 90 countries, represent 5,000 different cultures and speak an overwhelming majority of the world's estimated 7,000 languages.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 2000. The Forum provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the United Nations system through the Economic and Social 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 Forum has gained increasing recognition and impact as the global platform for dialogue, cooperation and concrete action on indigenous peoples, with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the fundamental framework.
Press conferences are scheduled on 24 April, 27 April, 1 May and 4 May at 1:15 p.m. in room S-237 at United Nations Headquarters. The press conferences and all official sessions (not side events) will be webcast live at webtv.un.org.
Journalists without United Nations press accreditation should seek accreditation through the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit at www.un.org/en/media/accreditation/accreditation.shtml, or tel.: +1 212 963 6934.
For the first time, there will be an Indigenous Media Zone, from 24 to 28 April, providing a space for indigenous community media to cover the Permanent Forum. It will be located in the United Nations Correspondents Association Lounge on the 3rd Floor of the United Nations Secretariat Building. The programme will be available at bit.ly/UNPFII16.
For media queries, including interviews, please contact Martina Donlon, United Nations Department of Public Information, at tel: +1 212 963 6816, or e-mail: email@example.com.
To contact the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, please contact Julia Raavad, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, at tel.: +1 212 963 5873, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the sixteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, please visit bit.ly/UNPFII16.