Life Long Learning

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technology-based distributed learning


Virtual Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples:
Communications System

Dialogue Between Nations, is exploring the concept of a Virtual Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples*: a communications system supporting dialogue in different regions and sectors, hosting proposed online interaction between members of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and their external relationships, exchanges and research agendas, while extending into a broader community with common interests.

A dialogue based infrastructure, anchors itself in the UN Charter and the promotion of the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a view to encouraging greater understanding of, and finally the adoption and implementation of this Declaration.

*The idea for a permanent forum in the UN for indigenous peoples has existed for nearly a decade. In 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna recommended the establishment of a permanent forum. In a 1995 resolution, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the permanent forum as a mechanism for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples to be seriously considered.


Declaration and Programme of Action June 25, 1993

Indigenous People:

32. The World Conference on Human Rights recommends that the General Assembly proclaim an international decade of the world's indigenous people, to begin from January 1994, including action-orientated programmes, to be decided upon in partnership with indigenous people. An appropriate voluntary trust fund should be set up for this purpose. In the framework of such a decade, the establishment of a permanent forum for indigenous people in the United Nations system should be considered.

Since then, the recent development and accomplishments of the officially established Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations, implies an important first step in the relationship between the sixteen independent experts/members of the Permanent Forum, Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples; UN agencies, member states and Indigenous communities.



United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
2002 - 2003 - 2004
Indigenous Regions




There are already a significant number of telecentres in rural communities as well as academic institutions which might serve as a network to host interactivity between the above mentioned experts and community leadership and their organizations.

It is suggested that a review of the technical resources available to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues' members at present, in their own regions be the basis for the development of a research agenda. This may include corporate support, educational institutional access to computer labs, etc. or personal home/office technology. This study should include a survey of computer skills, familiarity with audio/videoconferencing, desktop conferencing and interactive forums, email lists, etc. and the comfort level, or technical support required, as well as costs. Four main obstacles need to be considered: in the case of synchronous communication (members wishing to build in a "live" dialogue session supported by conferencing software, such as a 90 minute forum online): the time zone factor, reliability of access, connectivity charges, and multiple language interpretation.

In the development/review of the possibility of using communications technologies to support virtual interactions as described previously, it would be of key importance to work directly with past and present UN Permanent Forum members, to establish guidelines on needs, and how an independent entity, built upon or adapted from the current DBN model, might offer services to complement the official UN Permanent Forum web site, which would of course, require full endorsement from that body as an essential element within the broader framework and mandate of the Permanent Forum and ECOSOC.

Dialogue Between Nations
is about Relationships:

Internal communications between Permanent Forum
members and experts

External communications between Permanent Forum
members and experts, UN agencies/ECOSOC

External communications between Permanent Forum
members and experts, Indigenous Nations and Organizations

External communications between Permanent Forum
members and experts and communities at risk

External communications between Permanent Forum
members and experts and the non-Indigenous community,
including national governments

A communications infrastructure intended to advance the above relationships needs to take into consideration publication of research, collaborative writing of documents, easy access to data bases, hosting of specialised data bases, in addition to the core "dialogue" concept underlying this specific DBN concept.



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Copyright Natalie Drache 1999