4 May 2012

Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, 7-18 May, Marks Anniversary of Declaration on Indigenous Rights, at High-Level Event 17 May

4 May 2012
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release

Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, 7–18 May, Marks Anniversary of Declaration

on Indigenous Rights, at High-Level Event 17 May


A high-level event convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mark the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be part of a two-week meeting beginning at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday.

The high-level event, to take place in the General Assembly Hall on Thursday, 17 May, will celebrate the adoption of the United Nations Declaration, reflect on good practices and assess the Declaration’s role in fulfilling the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.

Almost 2,000 indigenous participants from all regions of the world are expected to take part in the eleventh session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, from 7 to 18 May, engaging with Forum members, United Nations Member States and agencies.

“The Forum can play an important role in protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples around the world,” said the Forum’s Chairperson.  “We need to make the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration a reality.”

Other themes to be addressed during the session include the rights of indigenous peoples to food and food sovereignty; the situation of indigenous peoples in Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; the upcoming World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (2014); and the special theme of the enduring impact of the “Doctrine of Discovery” — the way courts justified the annexing of indigenous lands — and the related right to redress for past conquests.

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will address the Permanent Forum’s opening session in the General Assembly Hall on Monday, 7 May, alongside Bienvenu Okiemy, Minister of Communications and Relations with the Parliament of the Republic of the Congo.  The opening welcome will be made by the traditional Chief of the Onondaga Nation, Todadaho Sid Hill, and a ceremonial prayer will be offered by a Mayan elder.

Side Events

There will be more than 50 side events taking place during the two-week session, organized by Member States, United Nations entities, other intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum and other stakeholders.

The opening of the exhibit, “Indigenous Peoples and Food Sovereignty”, and a cultural event, with the bands Sak Tzevul from Chiapas and Andes Manta from Ecuador, as well as other indigenous artists from around the world, will take place on Tuesday evening, 8 May, at 6:15 p.m., in the Visitors’ Lobby of the United Nations.


The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July 2000.  The Forum 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 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 organizations from the different regions of the world.

The outcome of the Forum’s eleventh session is expected to be a report to the Economic and Social Council, including draft decisions recommended for adoption by the Council.

Press conferences are scheduled for 7 May at 1 p.m., and on 10, 14 and 17 May at 11 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium at United Nations Headquarters.

The press conferences, the opening session on 7 May and the high-level event on 17 May will be webcast live at

For information about press accreditation, please visit the website of the Media and Accreditation Liaison Unit for details at or call +1 212 963 6934 or +1 212 963 6937.

For media queries, including interviews with United Nations officials and indigenous representatives, please contact Martina Volpe Donlon, United Nations Department of Public Information, at tel.: +1 212 963 6816, e-mail:

For the Permanent Forum’s Secretariat, please contact Nilla Bernardi, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, at tel.: +1 212 963 8379, e‑mail:

For general information on the Forum’s eleventh session, please visit

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.