The 13th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) opened on the 12th of May in New York City. The annual two-week event is the highest UN body on which Indigenous peoples and their supporting organizations, intergovernmental organisations and governments come together to discuss issues of importance to Indigenous peoples. It functions as an advisory body to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), providing expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the Council, as well as other UN agencies, funds and programmes.
This year’s Forum’s program of work includes a special focus on: “Principles of good governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: articles 3 to 6 and 46”. Art. 3 of the Declaration refers to the right to self determination, Art. 4 to the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relation to internal and local affairs, Art. 5 to the right to political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions and Art. 6 to the right to nationality. Art 46, on the other hand, highlights the duty to respect the territorial integrity of states, which has been seen as a potentially means to undermining indigenous peoples right to self determination as set forth in Art. 3.
This year’s Forum will further include a half day discussion on Asia as well as continue the current discussions on the World Conference on Indigenous Issues, which is currently expected to be held in September 2014. Jael Eli Makagon and Johanna von Braun from Natural Justice are attending this year’s Forum.