Economic and Social Council: Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Twelfth Session

Date/Location: Thursday, May 30, 2013; 11:00-13:00; Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Ms. Megan Davis; Ms. Valmaine Toki; Mr. Raja Devasish Roy (Member, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues)

Attended by: Marli Kasdan and Janice H.W. Wong


            The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues met today in the Trusteeship Council Chamber to discuss item 8 of the agenda, future work of the Permanent Forum, including matters of the Economic and Social Council. The discussions began with Ms. Davis giving a presentation on the Trust Fund on Indigenous Issues. It was established in 2004 to promote, support, and implement the objectives of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The funds priorities target culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development. There are two components to the fund, the small grants program and general support for permanent forum members. Ms. Davis continued by saying that support for the fund peaked from 2010-2011, but since then a dramatic decrease in donor contribution has occurred. She called for more support from UN member states in the form of monetary contributions. Ms. Davis concluded the presentation by giving a statement on the 2014 project cycle which is going to focus primarily on culture and the environment. Switching topics, Ms. Davis then spoke about the impact of the mining boom on indigenous communities in Australia. She stated that in the study there was a lack of reliable demographic data on the impact of mining on the indigenous communities and that many indicators lack a cross cultural component, but pointed out that some mining regions where Aboriginal populations live are extremely poor. The study found there are impacts on communities as the boom slows and the best mining practices are ones in which agreements are drawn up to address indigenous life post-mining. Following, Ms. Toki gave a statement on the decolonization of the Pacific region. She began by discussing the detrimental effects of colonization and provided case studies on the right to self determination that indigenous peoples in the Pacific have. The declaration on the granting of decolonization to indigenous peoples was adapted in 1960 and yearly recommendations are made about non self governing territories. Currently, there are 16 non self governing territories listed, 5 of which are located in the pacific. Ms. Toki concluded by pointing out that the UN GA recently passed a resolution on May 17th for French Polynesia to be decolonized, but said a further dialogue needs to take place in order to have a fair, effective, and full decolonization process. Next, Mr. Roy gave a statement on the best practices and examples of resolving land disputes that concern indigenous peoples. His study, which will be fully addressed and discussed at next year’s permanent forum, includes best practices on the resolution of land claims and disputes from the Philippines, with the work of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, in Bangladesh, with the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission, and in Africa through the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. The meeting concluded with an open dialogue of questions and comments from speakers on the floor.

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