Tenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
16-27 May 2011 (UN Headquarters, New York)

The 10th session of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) focused on reviewing the implementation of Forum recommendations on economic and social development, the environment, and free, prior and informed consent, as well as human rights issues. An exhibition during the session aimed to present the ways in which water is tied to indigenous peoples’ spiritual, cultural, political and economic systems. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Forum’s tenth anniversary marked 10 years of fighting against marginalization, uniting different cultures and pushing for indigenous right. In the words of a traditional indigenous saying, he warned against letting the “light” of indigenous customs burn out, and stressed that the Forum’s success could build momentum toward the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, slated for 2014.

The Forum concluded with the adoption of a draft report, including eight consensus texts on a broad range of issues that will be brought to the attention of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for consideration. It requested FAO to develop voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests; and decided to appoint  Kanyinke Sena, Mirna Cuningham and Bertie Xavier to conduct a study on indigenous peoples’ rights and safeguards in projects related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). It called on UNFCCC and its Parties to develop mechanisms to promote the participation of indigenous peoples in all aspects of the international dialogue on climate change. In addition, during the Forum, calls were also made for a full investigation of the possible impacts of the UN REDD Programme and other low-carbon or green economy strategies.

The Forum noted that the term “consultation” cannot replace or undermine the right of indigenous peoples to prior informed consent. It also noted that it would consider the development of guidelines on the implementation of free, prior and informed consent in collaboration with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. The Forum further adopted a set of recommendations related to its special focus region, Latin America and the Caribbean, and decided to conduct a study on extractive industries and indigenous peoples inMexico. Noting that indigenous people had a profound relationship with their environment, including a distinct right to water, the Forum urged States to guarantee those rights, ensuring access to safe, clean, affordable water for personal, domestic and community use in a text related to its half-day discussion on the right to water.

The Forum asked UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to undertake a study on the social, cultural, legal and spiritual institutions of indigenous peoples and how those affected the rights of women and children in local, regional and global frameworks. It also requested UNICEF to prepare a report on the state of the world’s children, with a thematic focus on indigenous children, giving special attention to how States were implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and general comment No. 11 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

UNPFII-11 will be held in New York, from 7-18 May 2012, and is expected to include a discussion on the right to food and food sovereignty. The Forum will also host a three-day international expert group meeting on the theme “Combating violence against indigenous women and girls.” Visit the meeting webpage, including links to press releases and statements …