The proposal to create a Permanent Forum focused on Indigenous Issues was officially introduced at the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights in 1993. Its establishment then became one of the central objectives of the programme of activities for the First International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995 - 2004). Subsequently, two UN workshops were held to discuss the possibility of a permanent forum.
The first workshop took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1995 (for the report see E/CN.4/Sub.2/AC.4/1995/7) and the second in Santiago de Chile in 1997. A review conducted by the Secretary General supported the creation of a permanent forum. In February 1999, an ad hoc working group of the Commission on Human Rights met in Geneva to elaborate proposals for the forum.
A second ad hoc working group met the following year, in February 2000, to finalize a proposal for the Commission on Human Rights. At its fifty-sixth session, the Commission on Human Rights decided to recommend to the Economic and Social Council that it set up a permanent forum on Indigenous issues.
The UNPFII is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. According to its mandate, the Permanent Forum will:
Provide expert advice and recommendations on Indigenous issues to the Council, as well as to programmes, funds and agencies of the United Nations, through the Council.
Raise awareness and promote the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system. Prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues.
The Permanent Forum holds annual two-week sessions, generally in May.
The first meeting of the Permanent Forum was held in May 2002, and until now the yearly sessions took place in New York.
The indigenous peoples, the States, the bodies and organizations of the United Nations, the intergovernmental organizations and the nongovernmental organizations with advisory statute at the ECOSOC are invited to take part.
The Permanent Forum is composed of sixteen experts.
Eight members are nominated by governments and elected by the Economic and Social Council; and eight are nominated by the President of the Council after consultation in due form with the governments, which in their turn will have examined the candidatures of the interested with the organizations of the indigenous peoples.
The sixteen members serve in their personal capacities as independent experts on indigenous issues. They are appointed for a period of three years with the possibility of re-election or reappointment for another 3-year period. Decisions are made by consensus of the sixteen members.
Here the list of the members of the Permanent Forum for the term 2014-2016 :
Indigenous nominated and appointed by President of ECOSOC
Ms. Mariam WALLET ABOUBAKRINE (Africa)
Ms. Dalee SAMBO DOROUGH (Arctic)
Mr. Edward JOHN (North America)
Ms. Joan CARLING (Asia)
Ms. Kara-Kys ARAKCHAA (Russian Federation, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Transcaucasia)
Ms. María Eugenia CHOQUE QUISPE (Central, South America and the Caribbean)
Mr. Raja DEVASISH ROY (Asia)
Ms. Valmaine TOKI (Pacific)
State-nominated and elected by ECOSOC
Mr. Gervais NZOA (Cameroon)
Mr. Alvaro ESTEBAN POP AC (Guatemala)
Ms. Aisa MUKABENOVA (Russian Federation)
Mr. Oliver LOODE (Estonia)
Ms. Megan DAVIS (Australia)
Mr. Joseph GOKO MUTANGAH (Kenya)
Mr. Mohammad Hassani NEJAD PIRKOUHI (Iran)
*The following text is largely inspired by the United Nations Guide for Indigenous Peoples, published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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