19 April 2021

Role of Indigenous Peoples in Achieving Peace, Justice, Strong Institutions to Be Focus at Permanent Forum’s 2021 Session, 19-30 April

The largest global gathering on indigenous issues, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, will run in a mostly virtual format from 19 to 30 April.  The 2021 session is focused on peace, justice and strong institutions:  the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16), as enshrined in the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 2007, is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples, and provides references to peace, justice and strong institutions for indigenous peoples,” said Anne Nuorgam, Chairperson of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

“Nevertheless, indigenous peoples still suffer grave human rights violations from the aftermaths of historical injustices, without redress or reconciliation, and in some instances, they lack recognition of their existence and respect for their fundamental human rights and institutions,” she added.

The Forum’s opening and closing sessions traditionally bring together indigenous peoples from around the world in the iconic General Assembly Hall.  This year, smaller, in-person opening and closing sessions on 19 and 30 April, as well as virtual meetings, will ensure that the Forum continues its critical work despite the pandemic.

The Permanent Forum will also discuss COVID-19:  building back better and its far-reaching implications for indigenous peoples, the upcoming International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Human rights and challenges 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 22 April.

The session will open on Monday, 19 April, at 3 p.m., with a ceremonial welcome by Tadodaho Sidney Hill, Chief of the Onondaga Nation.  Delivering video messages will be António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; David Choquehuanca Cespedes, Vice-President of Bolivia; Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland; and Debra Haaland, Secretary of the Interior of the United States.

Also addressing the session will be Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly; Juan Sandoval Mendiolea (Mexico), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council; Anne Nuorgam, Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist, on behalf of Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

Side Events

More than 80 side events are scheduled to take place during the two-week session, organized by indigenous peoples’ organizations, Member States, United Nations entities, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders.  All side events are organized virtually, and the full list is published at


Indigenous peoples make up less than 6 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest.  They live across some 90 countries, represent 5,000 different cultures and speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 6,700 languages.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established by the Economic and Social Council in 2000.  It 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 peoples’ organizations from the world’s different regions.  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.

Due to COVID-19, there will be no Indigenous Media Zone this year.

For media queries please contact Julia Hagl, Department of Global Communications, at email:

For more information on the twentieth session, please visit:

For information media. Not an official record.