May 2024

QUNO New York Welcomes the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Between 15 and 26 April 2024, the United Nations (UN) in New York hosted the 23rd session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). QUNO New York staff joined our Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) colleagues in welcoming Indigenous Peoples representatives to Quaker House and to New York.   

This year, as part of the theme of self-determination, the forum placed great importance on the empowerment of voices of Indigenous youth. Quaker House was offered as a hub for community building, hosting the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus for daily breakfast meetings and afternoon debriefing sessions. Page Nandawab-Ikwe Chartrand, an Indigenous Youth Representative attending the Forum with CFSC and QUNO, reflected on their time attending the Forum, stating, "I arrived in New York as a lone Indigenous delegate from the North American region and left as part of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus."   

QUNO NY was honoured to provide Quaker House as a space for informal dialogue between Indigenous Peoples and UN Member States on the topic of the enhanced participation of Indigenous Peoples, one of the overarching themes of the UNPFII. On this topic, CFSC's Jeremy Vander Hoek highlighted the naming of the two UN co-facilitators and two Indigenous Peoples advisers, who will work with Indigenous Peoples and Member States, as a positive step towards enhanced participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representative institutions. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Chairperson for the UNPFII, extended a call for the additional appointment of an Under-Secretary-General for Indigenous Peoples, a role that would provide further facilitation. Haudenosaunee External Relations Committee representative and long-time CFSC partner, Kenneth Deer, explained that it is essential to distinguish that, when speaking of enhanced participation, Indigenous Peoples seek a status distinct from that of NGOs and specifically for their own governance representatives. Kenneth used the story of Deskaheh, a Haudenosaunee leader, travelling 101 years ago to the League of Nations in Geneva and being denied the right to speak to underscore the importance of recognizing and enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples. 

The PFII also highlighted that pressure is still needed to ensure that countries effectively implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. During the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Mr Dennis Francis, President of the General Assembly (PGA), urged the community of world leaders to "be an example of constructive dialogue to honour [your] commitments to Indigenous Peoples." Mr Li Jinhua, head of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), joined the PGA in urging countries to implement plans that recognise and respect the intrinsic, collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.   

QUNO was honoured to open Quaker House for the work of Indigenous Peoples representatives during the UNPFII and looks forward to strengthening these partnerships. 

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the UN Economic and Social Council, established in 2000. The role of the PFII is to discuss the issues faced by Indigenous Peoples related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. 

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