Apr 14, 2018

UNPO Participates in UNPFII 2018 Session

From 16-27 April 2018, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), represented by several of its Members as well as its Secretariat, takes part in the 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), taking place at the UN Headquarters in New York City. During the two-week forum, UNPO attends sessions of the Forum and a number of side-events organised by indigenous organisations from all around the world. This is an opportunity to raise awareness of UNPO Members and their struggles, in particular with regards to this year’s theme “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources” which touches upon issues that are of great relevance for most of UNPO’s Members.

The UNPFII is a high-level advisory body to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Established in 2000, it aims at providing expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the ECOSOC and UN bodies, to raise awareness and promote activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system and to prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues.

Check this page regularly to get updates about UNPO’s participation in the Forum and follow us on social media using the hashtag #UNPOatUNPFII. To follow live or re-watch the discussions and events taking part during the forum, please visit the UN Web TV website.


20 April 2018

To close out the first week of the Permanent Forum, agenda item 11 “Follow-up to the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples” was discussed during the morning session. UNPO representatives also attended a side-event on the nexus between indigenous rights and the extraction of resources in their lands. Organized by UNDP, Global ICCA Consortium and WWF International, the event’s speakers looked at the detrimental impacts of resource extraction in areas such as Myanmar and around Lake Chad in the Sahel.


18 April 2018

During today's morning session, the discussion of agenda item 4 was continued. Mr Mangal Chakma of the Chittagong Hill Tracts took to the floor, demanding an end to the culture of impunity and the need for justice in Bangladesh, urging the United Nations to use every measure available to them to implement the recommendations made at the forum in 2011.

Statement by Mr Mangal Kumar Chakma (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)

UNPO representative David Barry then delivered a statement on behalf of the World Sindhi Congress, using the floor to draw attention to the use of enforced disappearances against Sindhi human rights defenders, activists and journalists who are raising a voice against the appropriation of Sindh’s natural resources and mega infrastructural “development” projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), both of which further deteriorate the situation of an already marginalized population. Read the full statement here.

Statement on behalf of World Sindhi Congress

A UNPO representative also attended a side-event on the sexual and reproductive rights of indigenous women. Organized by the United Nations Population Fund and Chirapaq, the event discussed the release of a report documenting reproductive rights violations in indigenous communities and allowed dialogue to for sharing experiences and recommendations.


18 April 2018

During today's morning session, the discussion took place in the form of a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues (Item 10) and other experts, allowing indigenous representatives to address directly Ms Tauli-Corpuz, as well as the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr Adama Dieng, and the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Mr Andrew Gilmour.

During the interactive part of the discussion, Ms Juweria Ali, representative for UNPO’s Ogaden member, was able to address the panel directly and make a statement on the situation in the Ogaden. Ms Ali welcomed Mr Gilmour’s commitment to addressing and preventing acts of intimidation and reprisals for cooperation with the United Nations in the field of human rights. She highlighted the severity of the reprisals faced within the Ogaden community for human rights advocates both in the Ogaden and beyond as the Ethiopian government has been successful in silencing indigenous people due to threat of retaliation. Ms Ali also drew Mr Dieng’s attention to the warning signs of genocide in the Ogaden which have both progressed and developed and urged him to consider how his office can raise the profile of the region and how the on-going genocidal campaigns can be halted, and the victims protected.

 Statement by Ms Juweria Ali (Ogaden Peoples Rights Organization)

The afternoon session continued the discussion of Item 10, seeing statements by, among others, the Chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mr Albert K. Barume. The floor was then given to indigenous and state representatives. In addition to the main session, UNPO representatives attended a number of side-events, among them a discussion on the Arctic Railway and the future of Saami Youth and an event on the indigenous Batwa and Bambuti of Central Africa.

In the evening, UNPO members present at this year’s Permanent Forum came together for an informal dinner meeting to – at the halfway point of the 17th UNPFII – exchange views and experiences of their participation so far.


17 April 2018

The second day of the 17th Session of the UNPFII started off with a discussion of this year’s theme of the forum, “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources” (Item 8). The discussion was continued in the afternoon and was then followed by a discussion on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Although registered to speak, our members from Sindh and the Ogaden were not able to take the floor due to limited time. UNPO representatives also attended a number of side-event, such as a discussion convened by the International Fund for Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation (BATANI) entitled “Agenda 2030 from the Arctic Perspective”.

UNPO was able to participate in two meetings with the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. Members of the World Sindhi Congress were able to raise the issues of enforced disappearances and forced conversions in the Sindh region of Pakistan, while representatives of the Ogaden addressed with the Special Rapporteur the alarming situation in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia that is inaccessible to outside independent observers – including UN bodies and representatives – and the media.


16 April 2018

Today marked the first day of the 17th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The opening ceremony included the re-appointment of the UNPFII Chair, Ms Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, a representative of the Tuareg people, as well as a statement by the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr Miroslav Lajčák, who stressed that – while the UN had taken important steps to enable access to international fora for indigenous peoples – the organization has not “opened its doors wide enough” and that more ambitious steps need to be taken. In his remarks, Bolivian President H.E. Evo Morales, himself a member of the indigenous Aymara people, added that indigenous communities are at the forefront of the protection of indigenous peoples’ environment and sustainable livelihoods, stating that “indigenous peoples and others alike need to be organized to protect the rights of Mother Earth against the pillage of our natural resources for a system that profits a few”.

Video of the UNPFII Opening Ceremony 

During the late afternoon session, government representatives, international institutions such as the ILO and UNESCO, as well as indigenous peoples organizations (IPOs) and other participants of the forum discussed the follow-up to the recommendations of last year’s Permanent Forum and made statements on the implementation of the six mandated areas: health, education, human rights, economic and social development (Agenda Item 4). Indigenous peoples from all over the world were given an opportunity to voice their concerns about the situation in their respective territories. The discussion on this agenda item will be continued on Thursday, with a number of representatives of UNPO members scheduled to speak.


15 April 2018

The second day of the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus Consultation Meeting began with the task of determining a collective statement that the American Indian Law Alliance would attempt to deliver to the United Nations on behalf of all the indigenous peoples represented at the Caucus. Throughout this discussion, in which small groups were formed based on geographical region, indigenous groups focused on the specific issues that affected their people and what they need from the United Nations. Most of these issues are common to the struggles of every indigenous community, hence the importance of the collective action that the Global Indigenous Caucus has stressed over the past two days.

Members of the Permanent Forum were also there to answer questions about the procedures and rules of the Forum, followed by a discussion on the slight change of the registration system that began this year. Several nations and peoples also voiced their concern that they felt underrepresented and discriminated against at the United Nations, and the Permanent Forum members assured the group that they understand the concerns and are doing everything they can to ensure the full inclusion of all indigenous nations and peoples in the organization. 

In the evening, UNPO representatives attended an event organized by our Sindh member celebrating the Sindhi human rights movement  and the men and women who have been a part of it. In addition to recognizing 26 activists who have been subject to enforced disappearances at the hands of the government, the World Sindhi Congress presented the G. M. Syed Memorial Award to Dr. Hyder Lashari for his dedication and work for the Sindhi cause.


14 April 2018

UNPO attended the first day of the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus Consultation Meeting (GIPC),which took place at the UN Church Center. Convened by several Indigenous Peoples Organisations (IPOs) such as the American Indian Law Alliance and the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, this preparatory meeting of indigenous representatives aimed at discussing the agenda items that will be under discussion during the Forum. The aim is for the IPOs to exchange views and consolidate a common position on the different items before the Forum, in order to give more power to their voice.

The representatives discussed a series of topics, such as the empowerment of indigenous women and youth, education, human rights and economic and social development. Several panelists stressed the flaws in the UN’s system as regards indigenous representatives’ participation in the UNPFII and other UN processes, whereby indigenous voices are systematically silenced and censored and encounter institutional obstacles in getting access to UN bodies.