New Permanent Forum on Indigenous
Issues to Meet
at the United Nations, New
York, 13-24 May 2002
The historic first session of a new United Nations body, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, will meet for two weeks at UN Headquarters in New York from 13 to 24 May. As many as six hundred or more indigenous people are expected to attend. The Forum will be officially inaugurated by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette on 13 May at 11:00 in Conference Room 2. Economic and Social Council President Ivan Simonovic (Croatia), High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, an indigenous elder and an indigenous youth are also expected to speak. The opening meeting, and others yet to be determined, will be open to media.
Indigenous peoples have not before been able to represent their own interests directly to any major body of the UN. This new entity will break new ground, as the Forum - including eight indigenous experts - will advise and report directly to the Economic and Social Council. However, the 16 members who make up the Forum are not representatives, as such; rather, they are operating in their own capacities as independent experts. As set out in the resolution establishing the Forum, eight indigenous members are to be appointed by the President of the Council, following consultation with regional groups and indigenous organizations; the other eight members are nominated by governments and elected by the Council. All members will serve for three years with the possibility of re-election for one additional term.
In its capacity as a subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council, the new Forum will report and make recommendations to the Council on economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. In addition to advising the Council, the Forum has been asked to raise awareness, promote the integration and coordination of activities relating to indigenous issues within the UN system, and prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues. It will meet once each year for ten working days. States, UN bodies and organs, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and organizations of indigenous people may participate as observers. At this 2002 session, under the agenda item, "General debate", it is expected that all observes will be allowed to make short statements. Future practice regarding statements by observes has not yet been determined. Among the items on the provisional agenda is "Adoption of rules of procedure", which rules are expected to apply to future sessions.
The Forum was established on 28 July 2000 by the Economic and Social Council, on the recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights. The distribution of governmental seats is based on the five United Nations regional groups, with three additional seats rotating among the regions. This term, the three regional groups of Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and Asia each have two seats. Indigenous people have nominated their candidates on the basis of 7 geo-cultural regions that they have devised to more accurately reflect cultural regions, with one rotating seat.
To date, only 15 of the 16 members of the Forum have been designated:
|Mr. Antonio Jacanamijoy
|Mr. Yuri A. Boitchenko|
|Mr. Ayitegau Kouevi
|Ms. Njuma Ekundanayo
(Democratic Republic of Congo)
|Mr. Willie Littlechild
|Mr. Yuji Iwasawa|
|Mr. Ole Henrik Magga
|Mr. Wayne Lord|
|Ms. Zinaida Strogalschikova
|Ms. Otilia Lux de Coti|
|Mr. Parshuram Tamang
|Mr. Marcos Matias Alonso|
|Ms. Mililani Trask
(United States of America)
|Ms. Ida Nicolaisen|
|Mr. Fortunato Turpo Choquehuanca
|(final expert yet to be announced)
For media queries, please contact Ellen McGuffie, (212) 963-0499,
e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. For media accreditation,
please fax letter of assignment to (212) 963-4642,
and call (212) 963-7164 to confirm credentials.
Published by the Department of Public Information, 26 April 2002