United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

The General Assembly decided, through its resolution A/RES/65/198 of 21 December 2010, to organize a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly in 2014, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

In accordance with paragraph 8 of resolution 65/198 the main objective of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples and to pursue the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Resolution 65/198 invites the President of the General Assembly to conduct open-ended consultations with Member States and with representatives of indigenous peoples within the framework of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in order to determine the modalities for the meeting, including the participation of indigenous peoples in the Conference.

The three UN mandates specific to indigenous peoples – UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – have also initiated discussions on the World Conference in line with resolution 65/198.

The Permanent Forum welcomed the opportunity and responsibility for playing a central role in the preparations of the World Conference.

The Permanent Forum in its 10th and 11th sessions had devoted plenary meetings to discuss the views and participation of indigenous peoples on the World Conference. These sessions were undertaken in close cooperation with the Presidents of the 65th and 66th sessions of the General Assembly. The recommendations from those sessions are contained in documents E/2011/43 and E/2012/43.

Indigenous peoples around the world also organized themselves to engage in the process in accordance to resolution 65/198. As a result, in January 2012 an open-ended Indigenous Peoples’ Brainstorming Meeting on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples 2014 was held in Copenhagen establishing an Indigenous Global Coordinating Group (GCG) composed by the seven indigenous-identified social and cultural regions of the world as well as the indigenous youth and indigenous women’s caucus.

In accordance with the mandate and the spirit of resolution 65/198, the President of the 66th session of the General Assembly appointed H. E. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Permanent Representative of Mexico and Mr. John B. Henriksen, the international representative of the Sami Parliament of Norway to facilitate the modalities and arrangements for the World Conference, including the substantive participation of indigenous peoples.

The 66th Session of the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 
A/RES/66/296 on the Organization of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 69th session of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. In this resolution the General Assembly decided that the World Conference would be held on 22-23 September 2014 in New York at UN Headquarters. The resolution deals with organizational matters, such as round-tables and panel discussions in addition to the participation of indigenous peoples and their representatives. The resolution also states that the World Conference shall result in a concise, action oriented outcome document.

At its 12th session in May 2013, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) made the following recommendation:

79. The Permanent Forum recommends to the President of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly the continuation of the practice, established during the sixty-sixth session of the Assembly, of appointing a State representative and an indigenous peoples’ representative to conduct inclusive informal consultations on his behalf in order to build consensus on the themes of the round table and panel discussions and the content of the outcome document of the World Conference, as well as to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in the process.

On 5 March 2014, the President of the 68th session of the General Assembly took the following decisions:

  1. Appointing two Member States (Costa Rica and Slovenia) to conduct negotiations among Member States on the outcome document; and
  2. Requesting the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to identify indigenous representatives who will undertake consultations among indigenous peoples on his behalf.
  3. He also appointed H.E. Crispin Gregoire, the former Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of Dominica, as the focal point on the World Conference in his Office.

On 31 March 2014, the Global Coordinating Group of Indigenous Peoples addressed a letter to the President of the 68th session of the General Assembly submitted two nominations of indigenous representatives (Ms. Myrna Cunningham Kain and Mr. Les Malezer) to serve as the indigenous advisers to the PGA according to the new formula submitted by the President of the General Assembly.

Facilitators will be useful for identification of themes and co-chairs for the round-tables and panel discussion, the organization of the interactive hearing, identification of high-level participation and the preparation of a zero draft outcome document which will form the basis of consultations.