The Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is scheduled to take place from 19-30 April 2010, New York. This meeting is one of the most important ways the United Nations has been providing opportunities for indigenous peoples to have their voices heard at the international level.

This year, the special theme of the permanent Forum is “Indigenous Peoples: development with culture and identity; articles 3 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. There will be three distinct and public dialogues on the special theme of the session: one with agencies, one with indigenous peoples and one with governments.

Stressing the significant of the special theme of the year, Elissavet Stamatopoulou, Chief, Secretariat of the Permanent Forum said, “The concept of development with culture and identity is attractive to many States. However, its implications as understood by indigenous peoples may provide a number of challenges.”

She believed that, “this session will demonstrate that development with culture and identity is not only beneficial for indigenous peoples, but also for Member States and, in particular, for developing countries in the face of globalization.”

The regional focus during the ninth session will be on North America. “It is hoped that dialogue between governments, members of the Forum, indigenous peoples and other key players will advance the understanding of indigenous issues in the North American region, and will help to address the challenges on the ground”, she said.

The Forum also plans on hosting a separate panel on “Forests and Indigenous Peoples” and a special in-depth discussion with the Governments of Paraguay and Bolivia.

Ms. Stamatopoulou said the dialogue between the Permanent Forum and the two Governments is “specifically about the slavery-like situation faced by the Guarani people in the Chaco region”. She also added that the dialogue focusing on the implementation of the recommendations of the UNPFII mission is “a path-breaking precedent, as [it] may open the door to similar dialogues with additional countries in future sessions”, she added.

In April and May 2009, UNPFII undertook a mission to the Chaco regions, at the invitation of the Governments of Paraguay and Bolivia, to address the living situation of indigenous peoples living there.

As in previous years, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples will hold a dialogue with the Forum.

In addition, about 80 side events, organized by Member States, UN entities and other intergovernmental organizations, are expected to take place during the session. Two press conferences, a special screening of the film Avatar and several cultural events are also part of this year’s session.

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