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Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development

Toolkit for Engagement ation on the Rights of Indigen r a l c e The D Permanent Forum on Indige ous Peo no u s p the Issu les, t es a he nd YO U


Toolkit for Engagement: A Guide to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Welcome to Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development’s Toolkit for Engagement. This has been developed to help de-mystify some aspects of international work and decipher essential components of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples so that it can be easily understood and effectively used to advance human rights by and for the world’s Indigenous Peoples. Designed as a user-friendly guide that is understandable and accessible to all sectors of civil society, this booklet also provides a basic definition of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and offers some helpful hints for developing and delivering an intervention to that UN body. The term Indigenous Peoples (IP’s) is used throughout this guide, as it is in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples itself as well as in other international documents and instruments, and it refers to Native Peoples, First Nations, Fourth World Peoples, Aborigines, Aboriginal Peoples, Autochthonous, and, Original Peoples. Please see note on Indigenous identity at the end of this guide for more information. We begin this booklet with a brief exploration of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP). When the United Nations General Assembly adopted the DRIP in September 2007, the majority of UN member-states voted in favor of

this critical human rights declaration. The United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia voted “NO” and opposed the DRIP. The latter three countries all reversed their positions and eventually supported the Declaration. However such support was far from full endorsement and steps for implementation and in all instances, these governments restricted support of DRIP with qualifications and limitations to the constraints of their domestic laws in regard to Indigenous Peoples. The United States finally followed suit on December 16, 2010 during the 2nd Tribal Nations Summit, when President Barack Obama announced U.S. support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Referring to the Declaration, Obama noted that, The aspirations it [DRIP] affirms - including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native people-are ones we must always seek to fulfill…I want to be clear: what matters far more than words, what matters far more than any resolution or declaration, are actions to match those words. As an Indigenous Peoples’ organization dedicated to the sovereignty of Native Nations, we look forward to real, sustained action consistent with the spirit of the Declaration from the U.S. to support those words by President Obama. For Indigenous Peoples in the U.S. and also in the world community, when a government with the power and influence of the United States


Nevertheless, we know full well that we cannot passively expect the U.S. government to fully endorse and implement the DRIP. What our peoples need and must continue to advocate for and encourage in all sectors is full endorsement by the United States, without restrictions, qualifications or limitations of the Declaration of any kind, so that we can in good faith, truly work together as partners on full implementation of this human rights instrument. We hope that full implementation of the DRIP in the United States may offer some strategies and open up avenues to change the constraints of U.S. federal policies and Federal Indian Laws as they are currently imposed on Native Nations. This toolkit is not intended as a replacement for the DRIP nor offered as a sole source of information about Indigenous Peoples and international human rights advocacy. In the pages that follow, you will find that the 46 Articles of the DRIP are outlined and grouped into nine (9) primary categories, with key features of each article highlighted by bullet points. It offers a basic and easily accessible summary for general understanding of the DRIP’s core components and is best used side by side with the Declaration itself in the exploration of the DRIP as an instrument to catalyze justice to secure and advance Indigenous Peoples’ human rights. Seventh Generation Fund is not blind to the challenges before us but we also strive

to recognize opportunities as well. We would not honor or serve our ancestors nor the coming generations if we did not fully explore and analyze the possibilities inherent in such a document that many hundreds of people from around the world negotiated, dreamed about, wrote, evolved and even gave their lives for its development and finalization. As individuals, as organizations, as peoples, and as nations we have a responsibility to our future generations to address and remedy centuries of colonization, discrimination, oppression, exploitation, deprivation of freedoms, and a global disregard of IP’s human rights. With this in mind, Seventh Generation Fund views the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and this booklet as tools – among the many that we need and which we need to use - to help clear a pathway for positive action toward decolonization. There is much ahead for Indigenous Peoples, our allies and partners, in our collective vision and action for decolonization. Most essentially what our long-term, multi-generational mandate requires is the complete re-Indigenizing of our lands, territories, minds, bodies and spirits. That is the commitment to this work of the Seventh Generation Fund and what we ask of you also – let us work together. Elahkwa – Thank you,

Tia Oros Peters Executive Director

© SGF 2011

makes such a statement, this is hopeful news for tribal nations and Indigenous communities. It also offers a message that can resonate throughout the world.


Š 2011 A publication of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development 3


What is the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? What is the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Why Does it Matter? The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) is an international human rights instrument considered the most significant accomplishment in the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. In its 46 Articles, the DRIP outlines a basic framework for recognizing the human rights of the world’s approximately 500 million Indigenous Peoples in such key areas as self-determination, language, culture, identity, education, territories, resources, treaties, intellectual properties, and many others. The DRIP is a major achievement on the global scale. Perhaps the most negotiated international human rights instrument ever, it took nearly three decades of hard work, negotiations, dialogue and alliance building between a diversity of Indigenous Nations and Peoples of the world, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), UN Agencies, and governments (member-states of the United Nations) before the DRIP went to the United Nations General Assembly for a vote. The United Nations General Assembly adopted this UN Declaration in September 2007 with 144 countries (UN member-states) voting in favor of this critical human rights declaration. (UN Resolution 61/295). There were 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa, Ukraine). Colombia and Samoa have since reversed their positions and indicated their support for the Declaration. Initially, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia were the only four countries in the world to vote NO and oppose the DRIP. Over the next three years and under growing international pressure, these countries reversed their positions and endorsed the Declaration, however with qualifications and limitations to the constraints of their domestic laws. The United States was the last country of the four to announce its support of the DRIP on December 16, 2010. 4


THE COMPONENTS OF DRIP In the following pages we look at the components of the DRIP and give an overview of the sections and their contents. Preamble The Preamble introduces and sets the tone for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP). It talks about why the DRIP was developed due to, “the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples…” It emphasizes equality among all peoples, promotes cultural diversity as positive for the world community, recognizes colonization as unjust and a violation of rights, and advances self-determination. The Preamble also encourages governments – referred to as “states” - to establish positive relationships with Indigenous Peoples by respecting, complying, and implementing their responsibilities to IP’s – such as through treaties and other international agreements, and including the DRIP. Why does DRIP use the term Indigenous Peoples (with an “s”) and not just Indigenous People? Using the word “peoples” (rather than a singular “people”) is critically important and Preamble of the DRIP is the first place that this happens. It is important even though it may seem a minor thing because there is a big difference between the two words under international law. Diplomacy and international discourse is often filled with nuance and subtlety. Sometimes even small changes in words, terms, and definitions can actually be very powerful when in comes to addressing rights. Prior to the DRIP, Indigenous Peoples were referred to as tribes, groups, or numerical ‘populations’ and thus without human rights under international law. By stating the term “peoples” right in the beginning in the Preamble, the DRIP recognizes and establishes for the world community that Indigenous Peoples of the world are distinct collectives and have the right to self-determination. Self-determination was established in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These state that, all peoples have the right of self-determination by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. (Part one, Article 1, 1966, emphasis added) 5


Articles Part 1. Fundamental Rights: Articles 1 through 5 •

Human rights and equity: Indigenous Peoples’ are recognized as distinct and equal to all other peoples and have a right to enjoy all human rights and freedoms, both individual and collective, in international law, including being free from discrimination.

Self-determination: The key component of the DRIP. This means that IP’s have the right and freedom to participate in decisions that affect them, to choose how their lives are to be governed, to govern themselves, and control their development. Basically, as a collective, they have the right to live as their cultures, values and beliefs determine.

Part 2. Life, Security and Nationality: Articles 6 through 10 •

Peace, freedom and security: Collective and individual right to safety of person, including being free from genocide, forced assimilation, or removal, and, the destruction of culture.

Belonging / legal personhood: Right to a nationality, including to live as a collective and to be recognized as belonging to an Indigenous Nation or community consistent with the traditions and customs of that nation or community, without discrimination.

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)*: A critical element of the DRIP. This is the first place where FPIC appears, and refers in this section that any relocation of IP’s must first have in place the agreement of those peoples, fair and just compensation if they leave, and the right of return.

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* Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC): Indigenous Peoples have the right to free, prior, and informed consent before any major decision is taken that affects them. This includes all levels and aspects of policies, programs, development, legislation, from design and implementation to the monitoring and evaluation phases. This is a overarching principle of the DRIP and appears under several articles. Free – IP’s decide without coercion, force, bullying or violence. Prior - IP’s must be included and fully engaged in dialogue on the matter before the activity or project begins. Informed – IP’s should be given all information with full transparency in a manner IP’s understand to make their decision, such as in pertinent Indigenous languages of the impacted peoples. Consent – IP’s must be able to fully participate in an honest, effective, open and transparent negotiation process and the decision of the Indigenous Peoples must be included. Part 3. Culture, Language, Spiritual Identity: Articles 11 through 13 •

Language, esoteric traditions and arts: Establishes right to maintain, practice, and revitalize, languages, religious and ceremonial lifeways, all aspects of arts and cultural expression, and to evolve Indigenous Peoples’ distinct worldviews.

Cultural, spiritual and intellectual properties: Expressions of culture, custom, spirituality, and tradition, such as through ceremonies, including accessing and using cultural sites, including the right to repatriation of human or ceremonial objects.

Part 4. Education, Information, and Labor: Articles 14 through 17 •

Accessibility, cultural relevancy: The right to access the same standards of education as all other peoples and to establish and control culturally appropriate education systems in IP's own languages, if desired.

Communications/Media: The right to establish Indigenous-centered media and to ensure that non-Indigenous media and public information reflect and respect IP’s cultures and diversity.

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Part 4. Education, Information, and Labor: Articles 14 through 17 cont. •

Employment non-discrimination: The right to the same employment rights as other peoples including protection against exploitation of vulnerable sectors such as Indigenous children.

Part 5. Decision-making and Development: Articles 18 through 24 •

Participation without discrimination: The right to participate in decisions that affect IP's, and that decision-making should be guided by and include the principle of free, prior and informed consent, to assure Indigenous Peoples’ control over their own futures.

Development, economic and social rights: The right to determine IP’s own political, social and economic development, and to have improved conditions in these categories, with extra assistance for people who are vulnerable, like elders, women and children.

Health, well-being and traditional medicines: The right to social and health services and to attain the same standard of health as other peoples. This component includes the right to traditional health practices, including conservation of medicinal plants, animals and minerals.

Part 6. Lands, Territories, Resources, Traditional Knowledge: Articles 25 through 32 •

Maintain and strengthen traditional relationships to lands, territories, waters: IP’s rights to a distinctive relationship with lands, including to own, control, develop, and strengthen relationships within their homelands. This includes rights to territories IP’s have traditionally owned, occupied, used or acquired and to determine the strategies, if any, for development or use of lands and resources.

Spiritual relationship and traditional knowledge: The right of protection of cultural heritage and ecological traditional knowledge. Indigenous laws and customs should be recognized.

Environmental health and justice: The rights to conservation and protection from damage (i.e. toxins, hazardous materials, etc.) and measures for redress for IP’s for such impacts on land, society, economy, culture, and spirituality.

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Part 7. Self-governance and Indigenous Laws: Articles 33 through 37 •

Identity and membership: IP’s rights to define and determine own citizenry and members in accordance to IP’s own institutions and processes.

Border issues: IP’s divided by imposed international borders can maintain and continue to develop own contacts, relationships with members, and others for spiritual, cultural, political, social, and economic purposes.

Indigenous laws: The right of IP’s own legal customs, traditional systems, and practices – in accordance to international law.

Treaties: Treaties, agreements and other arrangements between IP’s and governments (“states”) are respected, recognized, and enforced.

Part 8. Implementation and Accountability: Articles 38 through 42 •

Work to achieve the Declaration: That governments should work with IP’s to accomplish the goals and adhere to the principles of the Declaration, including providing funding and technical support from governments to IP’s.

Access to effective remedies: IP’s have right to access just and fair procedures when resolving conflicts with governments or with others in regard to infringements of collective or individual rights under the DRIP, including consideration and inclusion of Indigenous strategies for justice.

Accountability: that the United Nations (and its agencies and specialized bodies like the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues) as well as UN member-states shall advance respect for and full application of all provisions of the Declaration and follow up on its effectiveness.

Part 9. Interpretation of Rights: Articles 43 through 46 •

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Minimum standards: The DRIP provides minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of all IP’s – applying equally to males and females.


•

The Charter of the UN: This is essentially the legal framework of the United Nations and must be adhered to by all member-states of the United Nations. Therefore, the Charter applies and should be utilized in interpretation of the DRIP.

•

Territorial integrity: Speaks to the national unity, the political unity, and the sovereignty and independence of states.

Specifically, Article 46, (territorial integrity) concerns the protection of the territorial integrity of states only - as it is currently interpreted under international law. It is the first time an international instrument extends the deterrence against violating the territorial integrity of states to a people.

Notes:

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Writing and Delivering an Intervention for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

WHAT IS AN INTERVENTION? An intervention is similar to an legal oral argument, however it is written and most importantly, it includes recommendations to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) to encourage states, UN agencies, and other interested parties to take action. It is not solely a position statement on an issue. Please note that this is a starting place – a basic framework. The pages that follow offer a suggested format to help Indigenous Peoples develop and deliver an intervention. It is based on decades of international diplomacy experience by Seventh Generation Fund leadership, and specifically, 10 years of on the ground experience at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues preparing in both written and oral forms, interventions that range from sacred sites, human rights, education, the Millennium Development Goals, culture, right to water, language, etc. Each issue, situation, nation, and organization is different. All will need to use your own discretion and pull from your cultural mores, your talents and strengths, in developing and preparing an Intervention to the PFII.

THE 1-2-3’S OF BASIC WRITING OF AN INTERVENTION

1. Thank the presiding official by saying “Thank you Mr./ Madame/ Honorable Chair/ President…” Here you can add a formal recognition and point of honor for the presiding official for instance, like congratulating the newly elected chairperson on his/her selection to that post, etc. It is also appropriate to recognize and thank the other members of the Permanent Forum. 2. Briefly introduce yourself and your nation and/or organization. This is where you will mention if you are speaking on behalf of a caucus or a collective of signatories. How much you say in this introductory phase, such as naming all the signatories (and if you did great work developing allies for your intervention, you may have 10-20 or more signatories) really depends on the length of time allowed and the length of your written/ prepared piece. 11


Remember, UN-sponsored international meetings, such as the PFII, have time limitations for presentations - at most 5 minutes and more likely the usual 3 minutes per intervention by Indigenous Peoples. Sometimes a little more time is allowed, such as for caucus statements and/or collective statements with a lot of signatories, but NEVER count on that. Usually, it’s 3 minutes or less. And, the time limit can go from 3 minutes to 2 minutes. Period. That’s all you get to make your point. (1 ½ pages is about 3 minutes spoken) 3. Provide a brief narrative statement about what issue is being addressed, name the agenda item, and mention the key point of the intervention. Get to the point as this should only be a few, concise sentences or short paragraphs to outline your position. The beginning of the intervention can and should captivate your audience and make them want to hear more, and encourage the PFII to include the recommendations in the final report.

Avoid abusive language and only use the official terms of country names. The representatives of the concerned governments are usually in the room, listening and normally respond or give comments to Indigenous Peoples’ presentations. Make sure the information included in your statement is completely accurate and that you can “defend” it. Use diplomatic language as much as possible to avoid unnecessary “confrontation.” (from Suikar of the Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, in “Effective and Meaningful Participation in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues”)

4. List (and number) your Recommendations to the PFII. This is where you present ideas for a resolution / suggest remedies / action steps. The Recommendations section is key. It is the most important part of your intervention and what will be included in the final report of the PFII that is submitted to the ECOSOC. This is the part where you want to ask the Permanent Forum to take action on your behalf and encourage member-states, UN Agencies, other interested parties, to do something about the issue. There is very limited time, such as only 2 minutes, so introduce yourself and immediately read the recommendations. That’s it. Save the entire intervention for the paper submission to the Secretariat. In this section you can indicate and recognize some of the pertinent past actions taken by the United Nations, UN agencies, member-states, and NGO’s to address the issue, ask that those be continued or strengthened, or ask for a report at the next PFII session. 12


Remember to be realistic in your recommendations. Do not ask for actions or create recommendations that cannot be met by the PFII or that are inconsistent with the UN system. Make sure your recommendations can happen and are reasonable. For example, the PFII cannot send in UN peacekeeping troops to stop a toxic waste dump. Nor can the PFII sanction a country for its actions, however terrible those actions may be – only the Security Council can do so. Yours is one of literally, hundreds of different interventions that will be offered during the two-week session of the PFII. Keep it focused, realistic and do-able. 5. Narrative – you can discuss the issue further, more in depth, with key examples from real, urgent situations. Here you can speak about the nature of the concern, and how the issue is currently affecting your tribal nation, your homelands, the continuity of your culture, etc. This is also where you can elaborate on linking your issue to the special theme if any, and/or the specific Agenda item/number, provide data and statistics, and relevant quotes. In this section, you can talk about the role that NGO’s or regional organizations have to play in addressing the issue, however you may have already mentioned those in the recommendations – don’t repeat yourself. Focus more on the issue, impacts and remedies. Considering time limits, you may not get a chance to present this section orally, or if so, only a very small part of it. 6. Conclusion: A brief closing statement including thanking the Chair and the Permanent Forum again, and end your presentation.

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THE 1-2-3’S OF DELIVERING AN INTERVENTION Even though you are likely to be reading the whole time, this is still public speaking and you want to deliver your intervention with poise, honor, power and grace. Part of any such work is preparation. Here are some basic tips: 1. Prepare: Decide how you feel most comfortable delivering your intervention. You may choose to use a trimmed down version (a complete one if it’s short) of your intervention text or you may write out some key points. It is recommended that you read from a written piece since your intervention will be simultaneously translated in the six official UN languages (and you will have distributed copies to the translators ahead of time) so you want to stay focused on the text. If you plan to use a word or phrase that is unfamiliar to you, for instance, one from a cosignatory or in another language, make sure you learn how to pronounce it properly. 2. Practice – time it: Rehearsing your reading of the intervention is the best way to perfect its delivery and your public speaking skills. Time how long it takes you to read the piece as it is written. Cut back judiciously, edit wherever you can in the version you are presenting orally without losing the points you are making. You can provide a longer written one to the PFII Secretariat so don’t worry if all the details are not covered when you present orally. REMEMBER, you may only have 3 minutes before the green light goes to yellow then red and the Chairperson strikes the gavel for you to end. Presentation time frame can change at any time. 3. Eliminating unnecessary “fillers” can help: Fillers are words and phrases such as “umm,” “well,” “sort of,” “just,” “so,” and “like.” You don’t need these and you don’t have time for them. These take away from the message you are trying to convey. Staying on a tight well-written intervention can help avoid these. 4. Pace yourself: Don’t talk too fast or too slow. Realizing that you are on a time limit, still, remember that some speakers have a tendency to read too quickly. Remember not to read too fast for the interpreters, who are translating into the six official languages. 14


5. Use meaningful pauses: Leaving a moment of silence between sentences can be a powerful public speaking tool. Briefly pausing (depending on time constraints) after an important point will help to hold the audience’s attention. A pause can also give you time to formulate your next statement and also to breathe. 6. Breathe: Try to breathe, keep it even and smooth. Inhaling and exhaling as you read will help you pace yourself. You will feel more poised and your voice will be clearer and more understandable if you breathe. 7. Choose a healthy posture: You will be sitting during your delivery. Sit up straight, relax your shoulders, place your feet firmly on the ground and keep your knees unlocked to help you breath and speak with clarity and confidence. Be aware of your posture. Slouching, tilting your head or crossing your arms or legs will take away from delivering the intervention and may hinder your smooth speaking.

Notes:

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United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues The United Nations Economic and Social Council established the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on July 28, 2000 (resolution 2000/22). In this resolution the PFII was given a mandate to discuss Indigenous Issues within the mandate of the Council relating to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, and health and human rights.* MANDATE OF THE PFII What is the PFII designed to do? The Permanent Forum is a high-level advisory body to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with a mandate to discuss Indigenous issues related to the following six areas: • Economic and social development • Culture • Environment • Education • Health • Human rights According to this mandate, the PFII will: • Provide expert advice and recommendations on Indigenous issues to ECOSOC, as well as to programs, funds and agencies of the United Nations, through the ECOSOC; • 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 is one of three UN bodies mandated to deal specifically with Indigenous Peoples’ issues. The others are the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) and, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples.

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PFII Structure The PFII is comprised of sixteen independent experts from different regions of the world, functioning in their personal capacity, who serve for a term of three years as Members and may be re-elected or re-appointed for one additional term. Eight (8) of the 16 Members are nominated by governments (member-states of the UN) and eight are nominated directly by Indigenous organizations in their regions. These government-nominated Members are elected by ECOSOC based on the five regional groupings of States normally used at the United Nations (Africa; Asia; Eastern Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Western Europe and Other States). The Members nominated by Indigenous organizations are appointed by the President of ECOSOC and represent the seven socio-cultural regions determined to give broad representation to the world’s Indigenous Peoples. These regions are Africa; Asia; Central and South America and the Caribbean; the Arctic; Central and Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; North America; and the Pacific—with one additional rotating seat among the three first listed above. When and where does the PFII meet? The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meets for 10 days each year, usually in May or April, thus far at UN Headquarters in New York. According to the ECOSOC resolution that established the Forum (E/2000/22). The PFII may also meet at the UN Office in Geneva or at such other place that the Forum may decide. During the Forum’s first six sessions, a specific theme was discussed each year. Since the sixth session, the forum has decided on a bi-annual working method of one year of policy discussion and the second year dealing with implementation. The implementation sessions do not have a special theme. It is during the two-week long PFII meetings that Indigenous Peoples and nations, UN Agencies, States (members of the UN), and civil society** meet and dialogue on issues in the PF assemblies and throughout the time period. * www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/ **Civil society: refers to the arena of organized forms (apart from government) of collective action around shared interests, purposes, and values including non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), community-based organizations, and advocacy groups, etc

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Where Does Your Intervention Go? Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Indigenous Peoples Permanent Forum Members Nominated directly by Indigenous Peoples Interventions

Nominated by Governments Reports and Recommendations

UN General Assembly

Reports, Recommendations, Conferences & Annual Ministerial Review UN Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC)

Other UN Branches & Agencies

Member States

This diagram is designed to give a general overview of the flow of recommendations within an intervention through the UN system should they be included at each level of review and reporting. To see a complete organizational chart of the UN go to: http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/structure/index.shtml

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A Note About " Indigenous Identity " The United Nations has not officially adopted a single definition of “Indigenous Peoples.” Many, including Indigenous Peoples ourselves, have advanced that no formal universal definition is necessary. This is so because a single definition could be too restrictive and result in either over-inclusion or underinclusion of members and make sense historically and culturally for some instances and communities, but not in others. SGF offers the following description for your information. The Ecuadorian scholar José R. Martínez Cobo’s 1982 Study on the Problem of Discrimination against Indigenous Populations established what has become a standard in international discourse, making it the most commonly accepted and applied understanding of the term, “Indigenous Peoples.” As follows: “Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system.” Historical continuity may consist of the continuation, for an extended period reaching into the present, of one or more of the following factors: • Occupation of ancestral lands, or at least of part of them; • Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands; • Culture in general, or in specific manifestations (such as religion, living under a tribal system, membership of an Indigenous community, dress, means of livelihood, lifestyle, etc.); • Language (whether used as the only language, as mother-tongue, as the habitual means of communication at home or in the family, or as the main, preferred, language); • Residence in certain parts of the country, or in certain regions of the world; • Special relationship with the land and natural world, which is essential to cultural identity and survival as distinct peoples; • Other relevant factors. 19


As applied to individuals, an Indigenous person is one who belongs to an Indigenous people through self-identification as Indigenous – understanding themselves as belonging to a people and is accepted by that group as one of its members. This definition recognizes and upholds the sovereignty and the right of the Indigenous group to decide who belongs to them, without outside interference by anyone (governments, academics, corporations, organizations, or external/invading populations, etc).

Notes:

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Toolkit for Engagement  

A helpful guide to the UNPFII and the DRIP

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