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UN forum to bring together 500 indigenous groups from around the world

UN forum to bring together 500 indigenous groups from around the world

The United Nations will bring together next Monday some 500 groups in a forum that will focus attention on indigenous children as key to the preservation of their peoples' unique culture in this age of globalisation.

More than 1,500 people are expected to attend the two-week Second Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, where indigenous voices nominated by indigenous peoples can be heard. The Forum advises and makes recommendations to the Economic and Social Council on social development, economic, cultural, human rights, environmental, education and health issues.

This year's meeting to be held at the UN Headquarters will focus on the theme "indigenous children and youth". Unless children are educated in indigenous languages, cultures and values, indigenous peoples and their unique and precious cultures will not survive, a Forum document stresses.

"I expect this session will establish the Forum as an integral part of the United Nations system, both as a symbol of hope and an instrument of fulfilment for the dreams of indigenous people around the world." Committee Chairman Ole Henrik Magga said at a pre-session meeting two days ago.

In what members have called a "rolling up your sleeves" series of meetings, the Forum will draw up concrete recommendations for the UN system to improve the quality of life of the world's indigenous peoples.