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12th PFII Calls for Focus on Indigenous Peoples’ Health, Education, Land Rights, and Culture

Unpfii31 May 2013: The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) ended its 12th session with calls for: better health care and education; recognizing collective land and resource rights, especially in multilateral banks' safeguard policies; enshrining “culture” as the fourth pillar of sustainable development; and strengthening indigenous peoples' rights in Africa.

At its annual two-week session, held from 20-31 May 2013, in New York, US, the PFII approved draft decisions including an agreement to rename itself the “Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The Forum also agreed on: organizing a three-day international expert group meeting on sexual and reproductive rights; holding its 13th session on 21-23 May 2014, in New York, US; and proposing the theme of good governance be discussed at that session.

On health, the Forum called for a focus on ensuring the sexual and reproductive rights of indigenous peoples, and addressing the high suicide rate among indigenous youth.

On indigenous peoples in Africa, the Forum encouraged States to adopt a rights-based approach to conservation and indigenous pastoralism.

Participants held a one-day dialogue with the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and regional development banks to review the international financial institutions' (IFIs) policies for engagement with indigenous peoples, including implementation of the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

The Forum called for indigenous peoples to have equal participation in drafting all documents regarding the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014.

James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, reported on activities including promotion of good practice in the extractive industries, which will be the subject of his report to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2013. He called on the UN system to harmonize its processes and programmes relating to indigenous peoples, and ensure that their activities reinforce the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). He warned that any new multilateral agreements on the protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge should not undermine existing international standards.

In a welcome address, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo, speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called on delegates to ensure that development efforts address the priorities and vision of indigenous peoples, highlighting efforts to shape the post-2015 development agenda and the imminent deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The PFII was established by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July 2000 to advise the UN system on indigenous people's issues. [ECOSOC Background Information] [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [Statement of Special Rapporteur] [ECOSOC Press Release on PFII-IFIs dialogue] [ECOSOC Press Release on Closing] [Publication: Report on the 12th Session of the UNPFII]