MAY 12, 2003

The second meeting of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took place at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday and brought together Indigenous leaders, representatives of member States and UN agencies from all parts of the world.  This new Forum represents an historic advance in Indigenous Peoples' efforts to reach the ear of the international community and make their needs and concerns known. While they have made steady progress at the UN - from their first approach to the League of Nations to the Working Group on Indigenous Populations and the subsequent establishment of an International Decade for Indigenous Peoples - the creation of the Forum as a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council is a breakthrough achievement.

Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Second Session of the UN Permanent Forum


The Permanent Forum is made up of 16 independent experts - eight nominated by governments and eight appointed by the President of the Economic and Social Council, following consultations with governments on the basis of previous consultations with Indigenous organizations. The election process, particularly of those nominated by Indigenous groups, required broad regional consultations with Indigenous groups around the world. All members serve for three years, with the possibility of re-election for one additional year.

Never before have Indigenous Peoples served as "independent experts" on a United Nations body, and the Permanent Forum members will report and make recommendations directly to the Council. The independent experts will not function as representatives of their peoples, but rather in their own capacities. To date, only 15 of the 16 members of the Forum have been designated.

Hundreds of Indigenous representatives, attending the first session of the Permanent Forum in New York City at UN headquarters delivered more than 1000 statements to the experts, in response to UN agency presentations, and in dialogue with experts, States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and representatives of UN bodies and organs.

The challenge for the Permanent Forum members is to organize all the statements into a cohesive document to be presented to the Economic and Social Council.

Eight Indigenous experts appointed by the President of the Economic and Social Council and Eight state-nominated experts.
Meet the Experts

Eight Indigenous experts appointed by the President of the Economic and Social Council
Mr. Antonio JACANAMIJOY (Colombia)
Mr. Ayitégan KOUEVI (Togo)
Mr. Willie LITTLECHILD (Canada)
Mr. Ole Henrik MAGGA (Norway)
Ms. Zinaida STROGALSCHIKOVA (Russian Federation)
Mr. Parshuram TAMANG (Nepal)
Ms. Mililani TRASK (USA)

Eight state-nominated experts:
Mr. Yuri A. BOITCHENKO (Russian Federation)
Ms. Njuma EKUNDANAYO (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Mr. Yuji IWASAWA (Japan)
Mr. Wayne LORD (Canada)
Ms. Otilia LUX de COTI (Guatemala)
Mr. Marcos MATIAS ALONSO (Mexico) NI
Ms. Ida NICOLAISEN (Denmark)
Mrs Qin XIAOMEI (China)



The mandate of the Forum is to advise and make recommendations to ECOSOC on economic and social development, culture, human rights, the environment, education and health. In addition to advising the Council, the Forum has been asked to raise awareness, promote the integration and coordination of activities relating to Indigenous Issues within the UN system, and prepare and disseminate information on Indigenous Issues. It will meet once each year for ten working days.

The Forum was established on 28 July 2000 by the Economic and Social Council, on the recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights. The distribution of governmental seats is based on the five United Nations regional groups, with three additional seats rotating among the regions. This term, the three regional groups of Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and Asia each have two seats. Indigenous Peoples have nominated their candidates on the basis of 7 geo-political regions that they have devised to more accurately reflect cultural regions, with one rotating seat.

Adapted from UN Press Releases and Backgrounder

Nations to Nations Legend

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