Note No. 5741
22 July 2002


Press Release
Note No. 5741

Note to Correspondents


The new Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which held its first-ever meeting in May, will be the subject of a briefing by its Chairman, Ole Henrik Magga; the Rapporteur, Willie Littlechild; and the Expert Member, Wayne Lord.  The event, taking place on Tuesday, 23 July, from 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. in Conference Room 2, is co-sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

This week, the Economic and Social Council will review the report of the first annual session of the Permanent Forum (document E/2002/43), which met at United Nations Headquarters from 13 to 24 May.  In its report, the Forum asks, among other things, that a secretariat for the Forum be established in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York; that the 2003 session of the Forum meet, once again, in New York; and that a Voluntary Fund be established for projects that the Forum recommends.

The Forum, an advisory body established by the Council in 2000,has the mandate to address indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

In establishing the body (resolution 2000/22), the Economic and Social Council asked it to provide expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the Council, as well as to United Nations programmes, funds and agencies, through the Council; raise awareness and promote the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the United Nations system; and prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues.

The Forum has unique features:

-- It is a high-level body, established at the same level in the United Nations system as the Commission on Human Rights;

-- It will cover a broad range of issues related to indigenous peoples:   not only human rights, but also education, culture, the environment and health;

-- With the establishment of the Forum, indigenous peoples have become members of a United Nations body and, as such, will help set the Forum’s agenda and determine its outcomes:  this is unprecedented within the United Nations system.

-- By adopting the procedures for participation of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, the Forum offers indigenous peoples the opportunity for full involvement.  The Working Group on Indigenous Populations is open to all indigenous peoples’ organizations, regardless of their consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.  Thus, organizations of indigenous peoples may participate as observers in the meetings of the Permanent Forum.

The Forum is composed of 16 expert members (at this time, there are only 15 members, seven nominated by Member States).  Seven members were nominated by governments and elected by the Council; eight were appointed by the President of the Economic and Social Council following formal consultations with governments that, in turn, had discussed prospective nominees with indigenous organizations.  The selection process is based on principles of fair representation, the diversity and geographical distribution of indigenous peoples, transparency, and equal opportunity for all indigenous peoples.

Forum members serve in their personal capacities as independent experts on indigenous issues.  They are appointed for a period of three years, with the possibility of re-election or reappointment for another three years.  Decisions are made by consensus.

The Council in 2000 also decided to review, once the Permanent Forum had held its first session, all United Nations mechanisms, procedures and programmes concerning indigenous issues, including the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, to rationalize activities, avoid duplication and overlap and promote effectiveness.

The members of the Forum are:

Indigenous-nominated Experts              Government-nominated Experts

Antonio Jacanamijoy                       Yuri A. Boitchenko

(Colombia)                                (Russian Federation)

Ayitégau Kouevi                           Njuma Ekundanayo

(Togo)                                    (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Willie Littlechild                        Yuji Iwasawa

(Canada)                                  (Japan)

Ole Henrik Magga                          Wayne Lord

(Norway)                                  (Canada)

Zinaida Strogalschikova                   Otilia Lux de Coti

(Russian Federation)                      (Guatemala)

Parshuram Tamang                          Marcos Matias Alonso

(Nepal)                                   (Mexico)

Mililani Trask                            Ida Nicolaisen

(United States)                           (Denmark)

Fortunato Turpo Choquehuanca              (final expert yet to

(Peru)                                    be announced)

For further information, please contact Ellen McGuffie at (212) 963-0499,  e-mail:

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For information media. Not an official record.