Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues continues

Note: Following is a partial summary of today’s meetings of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. A complete summary of today’s Forum meetings will be available later today following the conclusion of the afternoon meeting.


WASMÁLIA BIVAR (Brazil), Chair of the forty-eight session of the Statistical Commission, spoke by videoconference, saying the Commission had adopted a revised framework for indicators in March 2017 and had sent a related draft resolution for consideration by the Economic and Social Council.  The Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals Indicators had made efforts to speed up its work on indicators that would provide guidance on data flows between countries and the international system, he said, adding that all groups must be visible in the data if none was to be left behind.

The Inter-agency and Expert Group had begun to work on data disaggregation, including indicators on indigenous peoples, he said, noting that they had been identified in an effort to find ways to reduce hunger and increase access to education.  The High-Level Group on Collaboration, Coordination and Capacity-Building had examined those important issues during the development of a global plan of action in Cape Town, South Africa, in January 2017 which the Commission had later adopted.  The Cape Town Plan of Action highlighted a number of issues requiring greater attention, he said.  More work was needed to establish implementation plans, as was greater investment in the production and use of data in order to ensure progress for all towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

IRENA ZUBCEVIC, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said indigenous peoples were mentioned in specific Goals and targets, describing the High-Level Political Forum as the central platform for review and follow-up on the Sustainable Development Goals and a good link by which the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues could advance its priorities.  New and emerging issues must also be considered, she said, noting that the High-Level Political Forum was tasked with considering the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, among other instruments.  Noting the centrality of ensuring that no one was left behind, she emphasized that those furthest behind must be reached first.

HERNAN QUEZADA (Chile) said the Declaration’s implementation had been a guiding instrument for his country, yet challenges existed, including pairing social cohesion and gender equality with economic growth.  A systemic approach was needed to address indigenous peoples’ living conditions, including access to health and education.  Efforts to address those challenges would in turn improve agricultural production and reap further benefits.  Chile had adopted measures to recognize the right to prior consultation with indigenous peoples on a range of issues.

ANTJE KRAFT, of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said indigenous peoples’ rights had been included in programming.  The Programme regarded the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a tool to protect their rights at the national level and inform guidance on national development plans.  At the country-level, UNDP must reach the most remote communities and United Nations Country Teams were already providing support in that regard.

DIEGO SAAVEDRA, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, said promoting regional information was essential and should include the aspirations of indigenous peoples.  Those peoples were mobilizing against the contamination of their lands and the Permanent Forum should encourage a global campaign to remedy that situation.

NABA BIKRAM KISHORE TRIPURA, Secretary, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs of Bangladesh, said his department was implementing a significant number of programmes and projects to improve the lives of people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  It had also drawn up a comprehensive strategic framework for sustainable development in the area, the key elements of which were to ensure peace, stability and governance.  The framework involved putting into place appropriate policies, strengthening institutions and making financial and technical resources available, he said, reiterating the country’s commitment to achieving the Goals by 2030.

JOAN CARLING, Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, speaking for the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group for Sustainable Development, recommended efforts to be established to follow up and engage with the Expert Group on the legal recognition of customary land rights.  Calling on United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to establish partnerships with indigenous organizations to promote their rights and aspirations, she also asked States to invest in development programmes targeting indigenous peoples.

GLORIA SALVADOR (Guatemala), noting that 41 per cent of her country’s population were indigenous peoples, said her Government would soon undertake a population census that would include disaggregated ethnic and gender data.  She added that it was vitally important for goals and targets related to indigenous peoples to be integrated into the strategies of development bodies.

ROBERTO BORRERO, International Indian Treaty Council, recommended that the Permanent Forum ask States to report on steps taken to develop national action plans.  Those plans should include indicators developed by, and relevant to, indigenous peoples that would address, among other things, rights to traditional lands and resources, self-determination and free, prior and informed consent.  He invited all interested participants to find out more about the work of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for the Sustainable Development Goals.

CHU GUANG (China) said that, for historical reasons, many indigenous peoples in some developed countries still faced discrimination and unfair treatment.  The countries concerned should focus on poverty reduction and economic development for indigenous peoples, guided by the 2030 Agenda.  He added that China, in cooperation with some countries, was involved in projects that hopefully would benefit indigenous peoples.  Such projects were undertaken in line with market rules, he said, suggesting that indigenous peoples enhance consultations with their own Governments to resolve problems that might arise.

ABDIRAHMAN MAHDI, Ogaden People’s Rights Organization, said the Goals were relevant to the survival and well-being of pastoral communities in arid and semi-arid parts of Africa and Asia.  Implementation of the Goals should be streamlined in the case of indigenous peoples, he said, recommending also that a rotating community of indigenous representatives be allowed to participate at all levels of the 2030 Agenda programme.

ODILE COIRIER, Franciscans International, said too many indigenous individuals and communities faced systemic discrimination and denial of rights.  Her organization urged States to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of indigenous peoples as enshrined in the Declaration.  States must also address and remedy the systematic violation of rights emanating from the extraction and overexploitation of natural resources, and protect indigenous human rights defenders.

RACHEL O’CONNOR (Australia) said many of her country’s domestic initiatives went to the heart of the Goals, including efforts to address violence against indigenous women.  Her country was also working closely with indigenous stakeholders to develop reporting processes.  Looking forward to the upcoming High-Level Political Forum, she said that only by addressing challenges together would it be possible to ensure that indigenous people were not left behind.

ELPIDIO PERIA, Passionist International, said well-established indicators must be included in countries and indigenous peoples must be involved at the national and subnational level.  The people “at the bottom” must contribute to efforts that related to them to ensure success.

BYRON OBANDO (Ecuador) said building an inclusive State was a priority and steps had been taken to implement the Declaration.  However, progress was needed in a range of areas.  Efforts had been made in dealing with customary and indigenous law, he said, inviting dialogue with stakeholders on the 2030 Agenda.

PRATIMA GURUNG, Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, said the 2030 Agenda must, in its goal to leave no one behind, pay attention to indigenous peoples in related efforts.  She reiterated that their participation was essential in national planning initiatives.

VARVANA KORKINA, Tribal Link Foundation, Inc., said the approach to resource use on traditional territories would not change without indigenous peoples’ leadership.  In the Russian Federation, they were limited in their control over their land and indigenous peoples were facing criminal charges that had been filed by corporations involved in gold mining, gas exploration and timber processing.  Those companies were able to ignore or violate indigenous peoples’ rights.  In Alaska, United States, she said, rights existed, demonstrating that corporations and indigenous peoples could work together towards development.

VANLAL DUHSAKA, Zo Re-Unification Organisation (ZoRO), said the Zo nation comprised mostly virgin forests in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.  The international community must lend support to his people to ensure their survival and the protection of their land.  Calling for an end to the destruction of forests, he expressed hoped the Zo people would not be left behind and would take part in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

ANJALI DAIMARI, Boro Women’s Justice Forum, speaking on behalf of Asia Indigenous People’s Caucus, recommended, among other things, that States raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals among indigenous peoples and set up engagement mechanisms to ensure their effective participation in Goals-related processes.  The Permanent Forum should also call upon the Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals, as well as States and United Nations agencies, to include, among global indicators, one that reflected the legal recognition and security of land rights.

PATRICIA ANN DAVIS, Pahtamawiikan, said that only by reframing the conflict between indigenous stewardship and colonial ownership could there be progress on sustainable development.  “We cannot reform anything that was divisive,” she said, adding that a win-lose perspective meant no-win for everybody.

EL MOKHTAR ELFERYADI, Congrès Mondial Amazigh, said his organization hoped that the Permanent Forum would recommend that the Government of Morocco address human rights issues involving the Amazigh people.  Official recognition of the Amazigh people at an official level had had no real effect on the ground, he said, citing among other things land confiscation and resource exploitation.

SYLVIA PLAIN, Anishinabek Nation, said the Liberal Government in Canada had failed to fulfil a promise to reinstate protection for 99 per cent of the country’s lakes and rivers.  Emphasizing a lack of data or reports on water protection, she asked the Forum to look into the situation in her community and elsewhere in order to complement the voluntary reports that Canada would be submitting on its implementation of the Goals.

SAMON THACH, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, said indigenous peoples must be included in all discussions at all levels, as they had specific knowledge and experiences in shaping sustainable development programmes that affected them.  Grievance mechanisms must be developed and States must recognize customary land rights.  The Mekon River Delta region in Viet Nam provided livelihoods, but saltwater farming and other practices were not sustainable, he said, emphasizing that current initiatives were over-exploiting fish stocks, a challenge that needed to be addressed.

ROCIO VELANDIA, International Native Tradition Interchange, said land struggles had persisted for 500 years.  The 2030 Agenda had proposed that no one be left behind, thus support must be given to the world’s indigenous inhabitants.  Only in that way could a real commitment be made by Governments to ensure a world protected for future generations.  At a time when oil pipelines were threatening the environment and indigenous peoples and global warming was increasing, scientists were trying to halt the planet’s destruction and indigenous peoples were also making efforts.

FENMEI LIANG, YAMASI PEOPLE recommended that the United Nations High-Level Political Forum held dialogues with indigenous peoples.  She called on the General Assembly to allow indigenous peoples’ to participate in meetings, including those held by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  Turning to the 2030 Agenda, she said indigenous lands were not resources to be depleted.

SAOUDATA ABOUBRACRINE, Tin-Hinan Organization, said a host of challenges and a lack of services for indigenous peoples must be addressed.  To remedy those conditions, she called for indigenous peoples to be included in processes related to the 2030 Agenda.

GERVAIS NZOA, Permanent Forum member from Cameroon, referred to Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/22, which created the Permanent Forum, and its operative paragraphs 7 and 8 regarding the evaluation and review of its work.  He said there was a need to reconsider the operations and functions of the Permanent Forum with a view to better addressing the concerns that it faced.

TARCILA RIVERA ZEA, Permanent Forum member from Peru, emphasizing that indigenous peoples must not be left behind, addressed the question of their participation in the elaboration of the Goals.  It was essential to evaluate the efforts being made so that indigenous organizations could see progress being made, she said, adding that States needed to allow space for participation.


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