Today was the final meeting of the 10th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Over the past 2 weeks, Permanent Forum members, indigenous peoples’ organizations, and civil society have been discussing and debating the work of the international community over the past 2 years in relationship to the rights of indigenous peoples. Issues were highlighted such as rights to land , development with culture and identity , and human rights violations among many others. A special half-day session was devoted to a debate on the lack of access and rights of indigenous peoples to water and sanitation.
On Monday 16 May the 10th session opened in the General Assembly Hall of United Nations Headquarters with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calling on delegates to further strides against the marginalization of indigenous communities, which still make up an estimated 1/3 of the world’s rural poor. “Raise your voice at this Forum and beyond”, Mr. Ban stated to the delegates. “I will urge the world to listen.”
Sha Zukang, the Under-Secretary for Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Coordinator of the United Nations Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples focused his remarks on challenge of ensuring indigenous peoples rights all over the world, but noted that they were now “on the global radar” unlike any other time in history.
As per tradition, the session was opened with an invocation from Tadodaho Sid Hill, Chief of the Onandaga Nation and long-time UNPFII participant.
The proposed theme for the 2012 session is the “Doctrine of Discovery: it’s enduring impact on indigenous peoples and the right to redress for past conquests” and will be held at UN Headquarters in New York.