The Chair of IITIO, Wayne Garnons-Williams was put on the Canadian Delegation to the 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York which occurred April 16 & 17, 2018. This year’s theme was: “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources”. The complete UN Report of Proceedings can be found at the following hyperlink:
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is a high- level advisory body to the Economic and Social Council. The Forum was established on 28 July 2000 by resolution 2000/22, with the mandate to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.
More specifically, the Permanent Forum:
- provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the Council, as well as to programmes, funds and agencies of the United Nations, through ECOSOC;
- raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system;
- prepares and disseminates information on indigenous issues The Permanent Forum holds annual two-week sessions.
The first meeting of the Permanent Forum was held in May 2002, with yearly sessions thereafter. The Forum usually meets for 10 days each year, at the UN Headquarters in New York. According to the ECOSOC resolution E/2000/22, the Forum may also meet at the UN Office in Geneva or at such other place that it decides.
In addition to the six mandated areas (economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights), each session is thematically focused on a specific issue. During the Forum’s first six sessions, a specific theme was discussed each year. Since 2008, it has adopted a bi-annual working method of one year with a specific theme and the next year focussing on review of implementation.
The Permanent Forum is one of three UN bodies that is mandated to deal specifically with indigenous peoples’ issues. The others are the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Wayne spoke for 3 minutes addressing International Indigenous Economic Issues. IIITIO also had a wonderfully productive meeting at the United Nations with the New Zealand Delegation (Taria Tahana, Naomi Soloman and Sarah McDowell) sharing best practices and starting to build an international working group focusing on Indigenous Trade between Canada and New Zealand.
Also on the Canadian delegation to the UN was Senator Mary Jane McCallum, Senator Lillian Dyck and Indigenous Youth delegate, Gillian Shayshay. Here we are all heading out from the United Nations Canada House back the UN for the afternoon Forum.
Wayne met with some of the Delegation from Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. Luckily the UN is crawling with translators so he was able to converse thorough translators in Spanish to understand the issues facing Indigenous peoples in South and Central America.
Also on the Canadian Delegation was the Honourable Paul Quassa, Premier of Nunavut Premier Quassa spoke eloquently when addressing the United Nations Assembly. It was the first time that Inuktitut was spoken and translated at the United Nations.