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Participation of Indigenous Peoples at the UN

Indigenous Peoples at the UNOn 8 September 2017 the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/71/321 entitled Enhancing the Participation of Indigenous Peoples’ Representatives and Institutions in Meetings of Relevant United Nations Bodies on Issues Affecting Them.

This resolution is a result of a process that began with a commitment by Member States, during the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014, to consider the participation of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations. The process continues based on decisions made by the General Assembly its resolution A/RES/71/321.

A Report of the Secretary-General A/75/255 entitled Enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in meetings of relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them was released on 27 July 2020.

 

Background Information

In the outcome document of the 2014 high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples A/RES/69/2, Members States committed to consider, at the seventieth session of the General Assembly, ways to enable the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in meetings of relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them, including specific proposals made by the Secretary-General.

Following up on this commitment, the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/70/232, entitled “Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, requested the President of the General Assembly, at its seventieth session, to conduct within existing resources, timely, inclusive, representative and transparent consultations with Member States, Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions from all regions of the world, and existing relevant mechanisms of the United Nations, on the possible measures necessary, including procedural and institutional steps and selection criteria, to enable the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in meetings of relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them.

The President of the 70th session of the General Assembly appointed two Advisors from Member States and two Advisors from Indigenous Peoples:

H.E. Mr. Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland
H.E. Mrs. Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Permanent Representative of Ghana,
Dr. Claire Winfield Ngamihi Charters of the Pacific Region
Dr. James Anaya of the North America Region

On 8 July 2016, the President of the 70th General Assembly circulated the compilation of the views expressed during the consultations, including concrete recommendations on the way forward, which were subsequently issued document A/70/990.

The General Assembly requested the President to prepare a compilation of the views presented during the consultation process, including good practices within the United Nations system regarding Indigenous Peoples’ participation, to form the basis for a draft text to be finalized and adopted by the 71st General Assembly.

To assist in implementing his mandate, the President of the General Assembly appointed two Advisors from Member States – H.E. Mr. Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland and H.E. Mrs. Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Permanent Representative of Ghana, as well as two Advisors from Indigenous Peoples – Dr. Claire Winfield Ngamihi Charters of the Pacific Region and Dr. James Anaya of the North America region.

On 28 September, 2016 the President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, reconfirmed the appointment of all four Advisors given their timely, inclusive representative and transparent consultations with Member States, Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions from all regions of the world and existing relevant mechanisms of the United Nations, pursuant to General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/232.

On 8 July 2016, the President of the 70th General Assembly circulated the compilation of the views expressed during the consultations, including concrete recommendations on the way forward.

A/70/990 – Compilation of views on possible measures necessary to enable the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them, and of good practices within the United Nations regarding Indigenous Peoples’ participation, Note by the President of the General Assembly, 25 July 2016

In accordance with Resolution A/RES/70/232, the aforementioned compilation will form the basis for a draft text to be finalized and adopted by the General Assembly during its 71st Session.

Process under the Human Rights Council - October 2024

The first intersessional meeting of the Human Rights Council on concrete ways to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the work of the Council will take place on 18 and 19 July 2024 in Palais des Nations, Geneva. 

This will be the first of two intersessional meetings mandated under paragraph 16 of resolution 54/12, in which the Council decided to “continue to discuss and develop further steps and measures necessary to enable and to facilitate the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions duly established by themselves in the work of the Human Rights Council.” The second meeting will take place on 17 and 18 October 2024.

For more information, please click here

Process under the PGA 78 - Sept 2023 - Sept 2024

The President of the 78th session of the General Assembly, H. E. Dennis Francis appointed H.E. Mr. Robert Rae, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations - H.E. Mr. Víctor García Toma, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nation as Co-facilitators to conduct consultations on possible further measures necessary to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 78/189 of 19 December 2023. Further, the President of the General Assembly appointed Dr. Claire Winfield Ngamihi Charters, from the Pacific region, and Mr. Belkacem Lounes, from the Africa region as Advisers to assist the co-facilitators in conducting consultations on this topic during the 78th session of the General Assembly.

The Co-facilitators and Advisors are organizing a series of informal consultations as follows:

  • On 17 April 2024, the first informal consultation with Member States and Indigenous Peoples was organized during the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues’ annual session. This meeting provided an opportunity for Member States and Indigenous Peoples to express their views on the renewed discussion regarding measures to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them.
  • On 30 May 2024, an informal consultation with Member States was convened from 10:00 to 13:00 in Conference Room 11.
  • On 11 June 2024, an informal virtual meeting for Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions was organized from 12:00 to 15:00 (NY Time) to further discuss measures to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them.
  • On 19 June 2024, an in-person joint consultation with Member States and Indigenous Peoples on these measures is scheduled to be held from 15:00 to 18:00 in Conference Room 3.

Registration is now closed. For the purposes of participant registration, the Secretariat will accredit those already accredited to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Draft discussion paper 

For additional details or any inquiries, contact Ms. Cassandra Morin from the Permanent Mission of Canada (cassandra.morin@international.gc.ca) and Mr. Eder Rojas from the Permanent Mission of Peru (erojas@unperu.org).

 

List of discussion papers:

 

Letters from the 78th session of the Presidency of the General Assembly

 

Process under the PGA 77 - Sept 2022 - Sept 2023

Third Informal Interactive Hearing with Indigenous Peoples convened by the President of the 77th session of the General Assembly

On Thursday, 20 April at 3 p.m. in Conference Room 1, the President of 77th session of the General Assembly, H.E. Csaba Kőrösi will conduct the third informal interactive hearing with Indigenous Peoples as part of the preparatory process for the consideration of possible further measures necessary to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them by the General Assembly.

This hearing was requested by the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/71/321 and was opened to Indigenous participants accredited to attend the 2023 session of the Permanent Forum.

The third informal interactive hearing will consist of an opening segment, a panel discussion and an interactive dialogue with Member States and Indigenous Peoples.

The detailed programme, concept note and further information on the meeting will be communicated in due course.

Process under the PGA 76 - Sept 2021 - Sept 2022

Having been postponed from the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly by General Assembly decisions 74/565 and 75/561, the third and final informal interactive hearing was scheduled to take place on the margins of the 21st session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in April 2022.

However, the Temporary Committee for the Indigenous Coordinating Body for Enhanced Participation in the United Nations, and the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples requested the postponement of the informal interactive hearing, to allow the broadest and inclusive participation of Indigenous Peoples and Member States.

Letter from the President of the General Assembly – Postponement of the Informal Interactive Hearing with Indigenous Peoples, 21 April 2022

Process under the PGA 75 - Sept 2020 - Sept 2021

Having been postponed from the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly, the third and final informal interactive hearing was scheduled to take place on the margins of the 20th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in April 2021.

However, the Temporary Committee for the Indigenous Coordinating Body for Enhanced Participation in the United Nations, and the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples requested the postponement of the informal interactive hearing until in-person meetings can take place to allow the broadest and inclusive participation of Indigenous Peoples and Member States.

Letter from the President of the General Assembly – Postponement of the Informal Interactive Hearing with Indigenous Peoples, 12 April 2021

Process under the PGA 74 - Sept 2019 - Sept 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues did not take place. Subsequently the third informal hearing with Indigenous Peoples convened by the President of the General Assembly did not take place either.

The Report of the Secretary-General A/75/255 entitled Enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in meetings of relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them was released on 27 July, 2020. The General Assembly had requested this report by the end of its 74th session in its resolution 71/321 entitled “Enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in meetings of relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them”.

Earlier in 2020, representatives of Indigenous Peoples had met in Quito, Ecuador to discuss the participation of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations. The meeting resulted in an outcome document that included a decision establish a temporary committee of Indigenous representatives that would prepare the establishment of an Indigenous coordinating body to facilitate cooperation of Indigenous Peoples regarding the enhanced participation process. The establishment of the coordinating body has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Process under the PGA 73 - Sept 2018 - Sept 2019

The General Assembly, in its resolution 71/321 entitled “Enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in meetings of relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them” requested the President of the General Assembly “to organize and preside over three informal interactive hearings and to prepare a summary of each hearing, during its seventy-second, seventy-third and seventy-fourth sessions, on the margins of the sessions of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, with Indigenous Peoples, ensuring, to the extent possible, balanced regional representation”.

Second Informal Interactive Hearing with Indigenous Peoples convened by the President of the 73rd session of the General Assembly

On Thursday, 25 April (10 a.m – 1 p.m. and from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.) in Conference Room 1, the President of 73rd session of the General Assembly, H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, conducted the second informal interactive hearing with Indigenous Peoples as part of the preparatory process for the consideration of possible further measures necessary to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them by the General Assembly at its seventy-fifth session.

This hearing was requested by the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/71/321 and was opened to Indigenous participants accredited to attend the 2019 session of the Permanent Forum.

This second informal interactive hearing provided an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to express their views and make concrete proposals on the enhancement of their participation at United Nations.  Furthermore, it provided an opportunity for frank and honest dialogue between Member States and Indigenous Peoples with the aim to advance the discussions from the first interactive hearing.

The second informal interactive hearing consisted of an opening segment, followed by two panels – one on selection criteria, and a second on venues and modalities of participation – each with an interactive discussion component with Member States and Indigenous Peoples, and a closing segment.

Webcast 

(Opening and Panel 1)

Panel 1: “Selection criteria”

This session will build on previous discussions around selection criteria and examine key issues of the right to self-determination and self-identification.   While this is entrenched in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international human rights law, the lack of adherence is a block in Indigenous participation.  Consideration of various examples such as the UNFCCC and the Permanent Forum may be helpful.  Speakers are encouraged to provide ways to move the discussion forward.

(Panel 2 and Closing)

Panel 2: “Venues and modalities of participation”

This session will build on previous discussions around the cluster “venue of participation” as well as the modalities of participation.  As in past discussions, it is difficult to discuss venue without examining the modalities. It will examine progress made and obstacles remaining to the participation of indigenous peoples at the United Nations. Speakers are encouraged to provide concrete ways to move the discussion forward.

Photos

Process under the PGA 72 - Sept 2017 - Sept 2018

First Informal Interactive Hearing with Indigenous Peoples convened by the President of the 72nd session of the General Assembly

Pursuant to paragraph 8 of General Assembly resolution 71/321, the President of the 72nd session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, organized the first informal interactive hearing with Indigenous Peoples on the margins of the seventeenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Tuesday, 17 April 2018. The event took place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber from 3:00 pm-6: 00 pm and served to reflect on possible further measures necessary to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them.

This hearing was the first of a series of three informal interactive hearings with Indigenous Peoples to take place in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and further provide an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to express their views and make concrete proposals to enable their participation at United Nations; essentially, serving as input to the intergovernmental process of the General Assembly that will resume at its seventy-fifth session.

The event consisted of an opening segment and a plenary meeting. After that, the floor was opened to participants to present creative and concrete proposals on the four main discussion clusters: (i) venue of participation, (ii) participation modalities, (iii) selection criteria and selection (iv) mechanisms.

The meeting was opened to Member States, Permanent Observers and Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions from all regions of the world.

Photos

  • Mirna Cunningham addresses the audience (Photo 1 and Photo 2)
  • Wilton Littlechild addresses the audience (Photo 3 and Photo 4)
  • Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, addresses the audience (Photo 5)
  • H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the seventy-second session of the General Assembly addresses the audience (Photo 6)
Process under the PGA 71 - Sept 2016 - Sept 2017

The President of the 71st session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Peter Thompson, in response to Resolution A/RES/69/2, conducted an informal launch briefing on the next steps of the consultation process and possible measures to enable the participation of Indigenous Peoples at relevant United Nations bodies on issues affecting them.

The PGA reconfirmed the appointment of H.E. Mr. Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland; H.E. Ms. Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Permanent Representative of Ghana; Dr. James Anaya; and Dr. Claire Winfield Ngamihi Charters (via video conference) as advisors to the process. At the briefing, the Advisors referred to the compilation of views gathered during the consultations held under the leadership of the PGA of the 70th Session, as well as the way forward.

The Advisors proposed that the next discussions on the matter take place on 14 and 15 December in New York, after delegations finish the Third Committee work. Subsequent meetings are planned to take place during the week of 30 January to 3 February 2017, in early March, as well as during the 16th session of the Permanent Forum.

Roadmap for PGA’s consultations December 2016 to May 2017:

Following the briefing of the PGA’s Advisers on the process of the participation of Indigenous Peoples at the UN on 3 October 2016, the following indicative roadmap and approach to the consultation process was elaborated, taking into account the views of Member States and Indigenous Peoples representatives:

  • 14 and 15 December 2016
  • 30 January to 1 February 2017
  • 27 and 28 February 2017
  • The weeks of the Permanent Forum,Wednesday 26th April 2017 from 3-6 PM in Conference Room 4 (CR4), and Wednesday 3rd May 2017 from 10 AM-1 PM in Conference Room 4 (CR4) as well.  On Friday 5th May, an Informal briefing to Indigenous Peoples about the negotiations will take from 2 to 3 PM in room S-1524 (15th Floor).

After these discussions a draft resolution would be finalized and adopted by the General Assembly as set out in General Assembly resolution A/RES70/232.

Informal launch briefing, 3 October 2016 (webcast)

Dates Format, venue and registration
14 and 15 December 2016

Venue: Trusteeship Council, UN Headquarters in New York.

Wednesday 14 December

10 am – 1 pm: Venues of participation
3 pm – 6 pm: Participation modalities

Thursday 15 December

10 am – 1 pm: Recognition / selection mechanism
3 pm – 6 pm: Selection criteria
Letter from the PGA to indigenous peoples (2 December)

30 January to 1 February 2017 Monday, 30 January
Bilaterals with Member States and Indigenous peoples

Tuesday, 31 January
10 am – 11:30 am: Consultations: segment 1: Venues of participation
11:30 am – 1 pm: Consultations: segment 2: Participation modalities
3 pm – 4:30 pm Consultations: segment 3: Selection mechanism
4:30 pm – 6 pm: Consultations: segment 4: Selection criteria
Venue: Conference Room 2, UNHQ

Wednesday, 1 February
Bilaterals with Member States and Indigenous peoples

27 and 28 February 2017Monday, 27 February
10 am – 1 pm: Bilaterals with Member States and Indigenous peoples
3 pm – 6 pm: Bilaterals with Member States and Indigenous peoplesTuesday 28 February
10 am – 11:30 am – Consultations: segment 1: Decision, current practices, venues of participation
11:30 am – 1 pm – Consultations: segment 2: Participation modalities
3 pm – 4:30 pm – Consultations: segment 3: Selection mechanism
4:30 pm – 6 pm – Consultations: segment 4: Selection criteriaVenue: Conference Room 2, UNHQ

26 April, 3 and 5 May 2017

To hear first comments on the text related to the process concerning the ways to enable the participation of indigenous peoples representatives

Wednesday 26 April 

3 pm – 6 pm in Conference Room 4, UNHQ

Wednesday 3 May

10 am – 1 pm in Conference Room 4, UNHQ

Intergovernmental negotiations on the draft

Friday, 5 May

10am – 1pm for first reading

Monday, 8 May

10am – 1pm / 3pm-6pm

Following dates will be Thursday, 25  to Friday, 26 May, full day sessions.

Venue: To be confirmed

Letters from the 71st President of the General Assembly

Other documents

Process under the PGA 70 - Sept 2015 - Sept 2016

Compilations

The final draft compilation of 8 July 2016 is based on the electronic consultation, existing United Nations reports on Indigenous peoples’ participation in the United Nations processes, earlier responses to questionnaires on Indigenous Peoples’ participation at the United Nations and good practices within the United Nations and the consultative meetings with Members States and Indigenous Peoples on 11 and 18 May, 30 June, as well as meetings held with Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

List of compilations:

List of discussion papers:

List of addendums:

Information on this process is also available in SpanishFrench and Russian.
*Please note that the translation of the compilations and addendums is unofficial and done outside the UN system, thus there might be some inaccuracy in terminology, for which the United Nations and the Advisory team of the President of the General Assembly are not accountable.

Consultations

The consultative meetings of 11 May, 18 May and 30 June can be viewed via the links below:

Inputs received to the electronic consultation as of this day can be viewed here.

Launch and timetable

first informal launch briefing on the process took place on 7 March 2016.

  • Video 1: PGA welcomes the process on how best to ensure the participation of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations
  • Video 2: PGA refers to Resolution 70/232 of 23 December 2015 and the background for the consultations
  • Video 3: PGA explains the purpose of the consultation process

For the full video recording of the briefing, click here. You can also watch some extracts of the video below:

In the launch briefing the four Advisers presented an indicative roadmap for the consultation process as follows:

8 March to 8 April: Electronic consultation
27 April: First draft of the compilation to be circulated
11 May, 3pm-6pm: First consultation meeting during the 15th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York 
16 May: Second draft of the compilation circulated
18 May, 10am – 1pm: Second consultation meeting during the 15th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York
27 May: Third draft of the compilation circulated
30 June: Third consultation meeting in New York
11 July: The final compilation circulated and a presentation during the 9th session of the Expert Mechanism on Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva.

Letters from the 70th President of the General Assembly

Background Documents

A/70/990 Compilation of views on possible measures necessary to enable the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them, and of good practices within the United Nations regarding indigenous peoples’ participation, Note by the President of the General Assembly, 25 July 2016

General Assembly Resolutions

  • A/RES/69/2 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document (September 2014)
  • A/RES/70/232 General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Summary reports of the Presidents of the General Assemblies

  • Summary of the Third Informal Interactive Hearing  (20 April 2023)
  • Summary of the Second Informal Interactive Hearing   (25 April 2019)
  • Summary of the First Informal Interactive Hearing (17 April 2018)

International Instruments

Other Documents