6 June 2016
PFII Calls for Indigenous Inclusion in Key Agendas, Peace and Conflict Issues
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The 15th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) discussed issues relating to peace and conflict resolution, women and children in situations of violence, and the persecution of Indigenous leaders involved in conflicts over land and natural resources.

Unpfii20 May 2016: The 15th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) discussed issues relating to peace and conflict resolution, women and children in situations of violence, and the persecution of Indigenous leaders involved in conflicts over land and natural resources.

PFII 15 took place from 9-20 May 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on the theme ‘Indigenous Peoples: Conflict, Peace and Resolution.’ Over 1,000 Indigenous leaders from all regions participated in the meeting. The report of the meeting will be presented to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July 2016.

During the session, Indigenous leaders discussed the relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for their communities, highlighting the Goals on equality (SDG 10), education (SDG 4) and health (SDG 3). Joan Carling, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), said Indigenous peoples’ participation, including participation in the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), will be key to ensuring their rights when implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the close of the meeting, PFII Chair Alvaro Esteban Pop Ac noted that the outcome document includes an invitation to Member States to evaluate compliance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) on the occasion of the Declaration’s ten-year anniversary, and a request to the UN Security Council to take up issues related to Indigenous women. He said statements made at PFII 15 indicated a trend of increased threats and violations against Indigenous human rights defenders, and he called for ensuring Indigenous peoples’ access to justice.

The report of the session also includes recommendations to: proclaim an International Year of Indigenous Languages by 2020, to help preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages in danger of extinction; ensure full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples in UN entities and processes including the International Seabed Authority, UN-Oceans, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote implementation of UNDRIP; establish a UN voluntary fund for enhancing participation by Indigenous youth in UN processes, or to earmark existing funds for this purpose; take measures at the national level to prevent self-harm and suicide among Indigenous children and youth, in particular by promoting the training of experts in the field of psychology; ensure that Indigenous peoples’ spiritual and cultural sites are protected, and that they are not forced to undertake litigation in courts; and undertake a global qualitative study on the situation of Indigenous persons with disabilities by the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD).

Other recommendations address national issues, including a national dialogue on constitutional reforms and recognition of Indigenous justice systems in Guatemala, and a call for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of native Hawaiians with regard to the proposed placement of a 30-meter telescope on the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea.

At a side event during PFII 15, Mafalda Duarte, Climate Investment Funds (CIF) Program Manager, drew attention to the CIF’s Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM) that operates through its Forest Investment Programme (FIP) to provide funds directly to Indigenous peoples and local communities (ILCs) for addressing climate mitigation and adaptation issues of their choosing. Duarte highlighted the governance of the DGM, which she said allows for the beneficiary communities to make their own decisions about project design and funding, through self-selected representatives. In relation to CIF’s ongoing research on traditional knowledge, Mirna Cunningham, Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples (CADPI), called for traditional knowledge to be integrated into policies related to climate change.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the launch of the UN System-Wide Action Plan on Indigenous issues, which he said is a response to the call from the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) to ensure a coherent approach. At the close of the meeting, Ban said that, while much has been achieved to improve the rights of Indigenous peoples, conflicts on their lands and territories and the lack of inclusion of their voices in peace processes remain a challenge. He stressed that Indigenous peoples are firmly on the UN’s agenda, and that is crucial for them to participate in implementation and follow-up to the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

PFII 15 proposed that ECOSOC should authorize a three-day international expert group meeting on the theme ‘Implementation of UNDRIP: the role of the PFII and other Indigenous specific mechanisms (Article 42).’ The meeting agreed that the 16th session of the PFII will take place from 24 April to 5 May 2017, which will also be the ten-year anniversary of UNDRIP. [UN Opening Press Release] [UN Summary Press Release with Links to Draft Outcome Report] [UN Closing Press Release] [UN Press Release on Secretary-General’s Closing Statement] [CIF Press Release] [UN Web Post on Indigenous Leaders’ Views on the SDGs]

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