UNPO Activities at the United Nations
From 31 July until 04 August the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations is holding its 24th, and possibly last regular, session at the UN headquarters in Geneva. Hundreds of representatives from indigenous communities worldwide have gathered to raise concerns and find solutions to urgent human rights issues, many affecting UNPO Members, ranging from judicial persecution (e.g. Mapuche) and political executions (e.g. Ahwazi) to environmental devastation (e.g. Ogoni) and militarisation of lands (e.g. Buffalo River Dene).
At the UNPO Office in the UN building a team of representatives from the Secretariat, volunteers and Members have held a high level of activity to organise and cover events at the WGIP; meet requests for information and assistance and provide substantive, technical and logistical services. UNPO activities at the UN this week have included daily publication of the UNPO Monitor, a record and compilation of indigenous and expert statements at the WGIP, as well as articles, commentaries and coverage of side-events. In addition to dissemination of the hard copy version, WGIP participants have been offered the opportunity of subscribing to an electronic version of the Monitor. UNPO, in close collaboration with the Hawaii Institute for Human Rights, has also held a series of three training sessions, covering issues on Effective Participation at the UN and insight into key UN human rights mechanisms. These were very well-attended and met with positive response by participants.
Moreover, following the call by WGIP Chairperson Yozo Yokota for input on an added Agenda Item dealing with the Future of the WGIP, UNPO issued a call for an indigenous position on this matter. UNPO elaborated upon a potential future for WGIP under the new Human Rights Council (HRC), and proposed the following as points for consideration by experts and indigenous representatives: Extend activities of the Working Group beyond Geneva; Hold specific fora within Working Group sessions, in addition to the plenary; Provide for the Monitoring of the sessions of the Working Group; Enhance scope and capacity of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples; Develop a follow-up mechanism to review progress of the Working Group. The paper is available in full via the following link: http://www.unpo.org/article.php?id=5044.
Among the indigenous delegates attending are several from UNPO Member regions, including representatives from the Australian Aborigines, Ahwaz, Batwa, Buffalo River Dene Nation, Chin, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Crimean Tatars, Iraqi Turkmen, Ka Lahui Hawaii, Khmer Krom, Maasai, Mapuche, Ogoni, Oromo and West Papua.