Indigenous Forum Report 2018
Brief summary of presentation of information made
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is an expert body to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and plays an important role in providing expert advice on how to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are effectively accounted for and realized in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in its capacity as an expert body reporting to the Economic and Social Council has a key role to play in ensuring that the rights and priorities of indigenous people are promoted in the framework of the 2030 Agenda and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainable Development Goals are also regarded as a step forward for indigenous peoples in comparison to the Millennium Development Goals, under which indigenous peoples’ issues are largely missing, and were seldom included in national action plans. Furthermore, indigenous people had little voice or participation in the development, implementation and monitoring of the previous Goals.
Indigenous people from an early stage in the development of the 2030 Agenda were engaged in setting the goals and targets. Because of their significant participation and the support by Member States, General Assembly resolution 70/1. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, makes six direct references to indigenous people and their individual collective rights. Similarly, the absence of a culturally sensitive approach to development has been noted as a challenge for upholding indigenous people’s rights for the protection of their distinct cultures and ways of life.
To ensure that indigenous peoples are not left behind, it is essential that the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals that full respect is given to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration constitutes a framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples, as well as guidance on how to ensure peaceful dialogue and development priorities between indigenous people, Member States and other stakeholders.
In September 2014, the General Assembly held the high-level plenary meeting known as the World Conference on Indigenous People and reaffirmed its commitments to consult and cooperate in good faith with indigenous peoples through their own representative institutions. The GA did this in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent, before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them, in accordance with the applicable principle of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In December 2016, the General Assembly (A/RES/70232) requested the President of the General Assembly to conduct timely, inclusive, representative and transparent consultations with Member States, indigenous peoples representatives and institutions from all regions of the world, as well as existing relevant mechanisms of the United Nations. The consultations focused on the possible measures, including procedural and institutional steps and selection criteria, necessary to enable the participation of indigenous peoples, representatives and institutions with relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them. They also requested the President to prepare a compilation of the views presented during the consultation, including good practices within the United Nations regarding indigenous peoples and participation, which will form the basis for a draft text to be finalized and adopted by the Assembly during the 71st session in 2017.
Building on the work of the 70th session, the President of the 71st General Assembly further consulted with Member States and Indigenous peoples before starting the intergovernmental negotiation in May 2017, which culminated with the adoption of resolution 71/321.
The seventeenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took place from 16 to 27 April 2018 at the UN Headquarters in New York under the special theme: “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to land, territories and resources”. In this connection, the President of the General Assembly decided to convene the informal interactive hearing with indigenous peoples to take advantage of the presence of indigenous peoples representatives from across the globe.
This was the first of a series of informal interactive hearings with indigenous peoples that will take place in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The hearings will help the General Assembly at its 75th session to consider possible further measures to enhance the participation of indigenous people’s representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them. The 2018 information hearing was and opportunity for indigenous people to express their views and make concrete proposals to enable their participation at the United Nations.
- Program of Work for the Indigenous Forum
The Forum members decided on changes to the two week annual session. The first week was all open plenary meetings. There were no closed meetings during the first week.
A condensed schedule during the first week enabled the Permanent Forum to discuss all substantive agenda items.
During the second week of the 2018 session of the Permanent Forum, members of the Forum held informal meetings with representatives of indigenous peoples, Member States and UN entities. The purpose of these meetings was to draw on information presented during the first week, and channel this into policy recommendations that are strategic, focused and actionable. Regional dialogues were also held during the second week.
Indigenous representatives, Member States and UN entities that were accredited to attend the 2018 session of the Permanent Forum were invited to attend these meetings.
- Objectives of the Regional Meetings
The aim of the regional dialogues was to discuss issues of relevance in the countries of the region and identify how to sharpen the focus and impact of the Permanent Forum’s analysis and recommendations. The objectives of these dialogues included the following:
- To follow up on issues raised during the first week of the Permanent Forum session;
- To seek inputs of indigenous peoples, Member States and others on the draft report of the Permanent Forum session, particularly the context and recommendations;·
- To identify specific strategic measures that can be taken to:
- promote the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the national level;
- Advance the rights of indigenous peoples at the regional and international levels;
- To provide a space for indigenous peoples, Member States and UN system to exchange information and perspectives in an informal and constructive setting to facilitate consensus building;
- To identify specific thematic areas and/or emerging issues that the Permanent Forum may wish to focus on at future sessions.
President of the General Assembly Informal Interactive Hearing with Indigenous Peoples
On Tuesday 17 April, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the UN Trusteeship Council Chamber, the President of the General Assembly conducted the first of three (2018, 2019, 2020) informal interactive hearings on the enhanced participation of indigenous peoples at the United Nations. This hearing was requested by the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/71/321 and was open to indigenous participants accredited to attend the 2018 session of the Permanent Forum.
Opening Segment of Statements
- Statement by H.E. His Excellency Miroslav Lajčák, President of the General Assembly
- Statement by Mr. Andrew Gilmour, assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights
- Remarks by Ms. Miriam Wallet Aboubakeine, Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Key Note addresses were given by
- Mr. Chief Wilton Littlechild (Canada)
- Ms. Mirna Canningham (Nicaragua)
4. Provisional agenda for Permanent Forum Seventeenth Session
1. Election of officers.
2. Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.
3. Follow-up to the recommendations of the Permanent Forum.
4. Implementation of the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum with reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
5. Dialogue with indigenous peoples.
6. Dialogue with Member States.
7. Dialogue with the funds, programs and specialized agencies of the United Nations system.
8. Discussion on the theme “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources”.
9. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
10. Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
11. Follow-up to the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples:
- Implementation of national action plans, strategies and other measures;
- Ways to enhance the participation of indigenous peoples at the United Nations;
- Implementation of the United Nations system-wide action plan on indigenous peoples.
12. Future work of the Permanent Forum, including issues considered by the Economic and Social Council and emerging issues.
13. Provisional agenda for the eighteenth session.
14. Adoption of the report of the Permanent Forum on its seventeenth session.
Risks for indigenous peoples
Despite the advances, the SDGs also involve risks for indigenous peoples. Disappointment has been expressed by indigenous peoples with the general lack of references in the 2030 Agenda to the following:
Collective rights in terms of land, but also health, education, culture and ways of living;
- The concept of self-determination, as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- Holistic development approaches not too focused on GDP growth, industrialization and increased production;
- The principle of free, prior and informed consent, which is essential for self-determination;
- Cultural sensitivity across several goals, such as on health and education, including education in indigenous mother tongues.
- Overview of the Forum
Opening of the session, General Assembly Hall
- Cultural performance by Saina of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
- Declaration of the opening of the session by the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Elliott Harris |
- Ceremonial welcome by the Chief of the Onondaga Nation, Tadodaho Sidney Hill
- Election of the Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (Item 1)
- Statement by the President of the 72thsession of the General Assembly, His Excellency Miroslav Lajčák
- Statement by the Vice-President of ECOSOC, Her Excellency Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
- Statement by His Excellency Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia
- Election of the Bureau of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
- Adoption of the Agenda and Programme of Work Statement by Ms. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
- Message of the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Liu Zhenmin delivered by Mr. Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist
- Discussion on the theme: “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and natural resources”
- Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
- Implementation of the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum with reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Indigenous women, youth and children
- Follow-up to the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
- Dialogue with the funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system
- Regional dialogues
- Thematic discussion: Conservation and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Mandated Areas of Discussion
Six mandated areas of the UNPFII:
Cross Cutting Issues:
In addition to the six mandated areas of the UNPFII, the Forum also works on a number of other cross cutting topics that are of major significance to indigenous peoples.
- Gender and Indigenous Women
- Children and Youth
- Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda
- Data and Indicators
- Closing 2018 Session, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Adopts Recommendations including Collective Rights to Lands, Territories, Resources
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues concluded its seventeenth session by adopting a raft of recommendations which reflected this year’s central theme — indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources — and urged the Secretary‑General to convene regional consultations in the coming months on ways to enhance their participation in the work of the United Nations.
The Forum sent the Economic and Social Council three draft decisions — contained in document E/C.19/2018/L.3 — on its future work, the first of which would authorize a three-day international expert group meeting on the theme “Conservation and the rights of indigenous peoples”. The second and third draft decisions concerned the venue and dates of the Forum’s eighteenth session — at Headquarters from 22 April to 3 May 2019. The decisions also agreed upon the provisional agenda for that meeting, including two new items — one on the holding of regional dialogues of indigenous peoples and Member States, and another on discussion of the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019.
In her closing remarks, Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Forum Member from Mali and its Chair, said the session’s discussions had spotlighted some progress, but also serious challenges still faced by indigenous peoples around the world. Speakers had cited higher poverty rates, poorer access to education and major gaps in life expectancy between indigenous peoples and other groups. Meanwhile, continued allegations of violations of the rights of indigenous women and indigenous human rights defenders remained of great concern. Those challenges were rooted in and often resulted directly from centuries of assimilationist and discriminatory policies that disregarded indigenous peoples as distinct peoples with rights to their own identity, cultures, lands, territories and resources. While some States had taken important steps to reverse those policies, others must do the same.
The session’s focus on indigenous people’s collective rights to land, territories and resources was critical, she said, noting that connection with the land was the foundation upon which traditional knowledge systems were based. It was also the cornerstone of their physical and economic well-being, standing in sharp contrast with the dominant models of individual ownership, privatization and development. Aboubarkine noted that the session’s thematic discussions had guided the development of recommendations on several next steps, which had been integrated into the Forum’s new methods of work. She then said that one major focus was on how the body could facilitate greater dialogue. The gap in implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples remained huge, and all stakeholders must be bold and ambitious as they moved forward. “We must think outside the box and not follow the business-as-usual model,” she said, calling for unique solutions to fully realize the principles enshrined in the Declaration.
The report also noted that, during the seventeenth session, many participants had expressed concern regarding States granting concessions for extractive industries, infrastructure projects, large-scale agriculture or hydroelectric dams without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, including in Finland, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru. In that regard, it reiterated that Member States must act in compliance with international human rights standards, while conveying also the Forum’s concern over environmental violence, in particular its pervasive impacts on indigenous women and girls.
In a report on the session’s theme of indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources (document E/C.19/2018/L.6), the Forum welcomed positive developments in that regard. However, even in countries where rights were recognized, they were simply not being implemented. Moreover, most States had yet to grant official recognition to indigenous peoples, let alone their collective rights to lands, territories and resources. Expressing its grave concern, the Forum recommended that States incorporate the Declaration into their national legislation and draft policies and programmes to implement those rights effectively.
Ensuring those rights is not only good for the well-being of indigenous peoples, but also for addressing pressing global challenges such as climate change and the destruction of nature. In the same report, the Forum emphasized that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals — in particular target 2.3, which calls for secure and equal access to land — would not be possible without fulfilling indigenous people’s rights to lands, territories and resources.
It went on to urge the Secretary-General to convene — in consultation with the Forum and before its eighteenth session — regional consultations to discuss modalities for the participating of indigenous peoples at the United Nations, including ways to enhance the participation of indigenous representatives. In doing so, it also urged Member States to support the organization of those consultations.
Noting that the Forum’s work continued to lay bare the relationship between colonialism and the many diverse forms of discrimination and human rights violations, she urged participants to listen to each other, she added. “Our stories and values are diverse, but they resonate across all regions,” she said. It was indigenous peoples’ obligation to take their rightful place, as self‑determining peoples, in respectful dialogue with all nations of the world.
An interesting outcome from the Forum was that an Indigenous person Roberto Borrero, Chair of the NGO Indigenous Committee, was appointed to the UN Human Rights Council representing Indigenous Peoples.
- Other Events
The forum held over 100 side events and parallel events during this year’s session.
A global Indigenous Youth Caucus took place during the two weeks.
Indigenous Fair took place the first week selling items made by Indigenous peoples
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
An important thing that we should remember is to listen to Indigenous Peoples on how they see their cultures when starting a new work in their areas. It might make a more effective way to start a ministry and to learn from them. Presenting the gospel message in a fashion that people understand and relate to is always helpful when starting a new work and going into a new culture. Be Cross-Cultural in our ministry and listen to the culture you are in because there is something to be learned from that culture. We are equal in God’s sight in our ministry.
Web links for more information
Closing Session of the Indigenous Forum 2018
Members of the ForumUnited Nations, SDG1: No Poverty, SDG4: Quality Education, SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG14: Life Below Water, SDG5: Gender Equality, SDG3: Good Health and Well-Being, SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG13: Climate Action, SDG2: Zero Hunger