Ahead of end of UN forum, participation of indigenous people in development targets urged

19 May 2016

As the 2016 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues prepares to close tomorrow, three participants in the session today underscored the importance of solidifying the participation of indigenous people in UN mechanisms to ensure that they are not left behind in the achievement of sustainable development targets.

As the 2016 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues prepares to close tomorrow, three participants in the session today underscored the importance of solidifying the participation of indigenous peoples in UN mechanisms to ensure that they are not left behind in the achievement of sustainable development targets.

At a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York this afternoon, Alvaro Esteban Pop Ac, Chair of the Forum, highlighted that participants at the body's 15th session – which opened on 9 May – had thus far heard more than 1,000 presentations by Member States and indigenous peoples.

He noted that among the most significant topics discussed during the session were peace and conflict resolution, the issue of children and women in situations of violence, and the persecution of leaders involved in conflicts over land and natural resources.

“These are fundamental aspects of any negotiation and any region in the pursuit of resolutions and peace therein,” Mr. Pop stressed.

Also speaking at the press conference was Forum Member Joan Carling, who noted that next year will mark the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“It will be a critical year in terms of reviewing what has been achieved,” she said, adding that discussions at next year's Forum will revolve around how further implementation of the Declaration can be achieved. In that vein, she stressed the importance of UN funds and programmes to support legislative action for the Declaration's inclusion in national laws and policies.

Ms. Carling also said that discussions at this year's Forum had made it “very clear” that many indigenous peoples are not aware of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which therefore indicates a need for outreach and awareness-raising on the issue.

Another crucial element involves incorporating specific targets and indicators relating to indigenous peoples into the SDGs, although in this sense she noted the lack of data disaggregation as a factor impeding the measurement of progress towards meeting any specific targets.

Also speaking today was Jacob Bryan K. Aki, a 21-year-old youth advocate, who emphasized that the session had discussed important issues and messages on how to better the lives of indigenous peoples, which he and other youth members would take back to their respective countries.

“We come here, we learn, and the work doesn't stop,” said Mr. Aki, who added that the session had served to propel youth advocates, including him, to return home to work with their families and communities for positive advancements for indigenous peoples.

In response to a question regarding an expected outcome document for the session, Mr. Pop said that document would include three recommendations, including a strong call to Member States for the pursuit of peace and resolutions in moments of conflict; an invitation to Member States to develop an evaluation regarding compliance towards the UN Declaration on its 10-year anniversary; and a request for the Security Council to take up issues related to indigenous women.

 

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