The week of high-level events that marks the opening of the United Nations General Assembly's annual general debate kicks off today with the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP).
Convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the Assembly, the two-day World Conference is expected to draw over a thousand indigenous and non-indigenous delegates who will have the opportunity to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of their rights, including pursuing the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 2007.
Indigenous peoples represent remarkable diversity – more than 5,000 distinct groups in some 90 countries, making up more than 5 per cent of the world's population, some 370 million people. These peoples continue to self-identify as distinct peoples with strong links to traditional territories with their own social, economic and political systems as well as unique languages, cultures and beliefs.
The World Conference is expected to result in a concise, action-oriented outcome document on the implementation the rights of indigenous peoples and the promotion of the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, prepared by the President of the General Assembly on the basis of inclusive and open consultations with Member States and indigenous peoples.
Opening remarks at the Conference are expected to be delivered by General Assembly President Sam Kutesa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, among others.
The opening plenary will also include an opening ceremony involving indigenous peoples and the adoption of the World Conference outcome document.
The meetings will be co-chaired by indigenous representatives from all regions: Pacific, African and Asian, as well as Western and Eastern European, and Latin American and the Caribbean.