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NGLS’ side event on the UN Engagement with Indigenous Peoples at the Country Level

In the context of the ninth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, NGLS will be organizing in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) an interactive panel discussion on Thursday 22 April from 1.15pm - 2.45pm at the Bah International Community Office in New York on "Delivering as One for Indigenous Peoples: Strengthening UN Engagement with Indigenous Peoples at the Country Level."

Over the past three decades, international developments, notably the adoption of the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in 1989 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, have provided opportunities for the UN system to strengthen its engagement on indigenous issues. Mechanisms with a specific mandate regarding the rights of indigenous peoples have been established, including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Human Rights Council. Several UN agencies have recently defined / refined their policies on indigenous peoples. An Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues has also been created to support and promote the mandate of the Permanent Forum within the UN system.

Although some progress has been made and stronger partnerships built, many feel that the UN engagement with indigenous peoples remains suboptimal overall and unable to adequately respond to the needs and demands of indigenous peoples, especially at the country level. Several studies and reports (e.g. from NGLS, the Special Rapporteur and the Inter-Agency Support Group) point to various challenges which vary from country to country. These include: a lack of awareness of indigenous issues; lack of programmatic action conducive to mainstreaming those issues and to effectively implementing standards of indigenous rights; and limited cooperation and coordination among the different UN mechanisms and agencies.

The 90-minute panel discussion will tackle these crucial issues. The purpose of the discussion is to:

1. examine gaps and challenges in the UN engagement with indigenous peoples at the country level;
2. discuss initiatives undertaken to address these gaps and;
3. explore ways to improve how the UN system works on indigenous issues.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Ms. Carol Kalafatic, Associate Director, American Indian Program, Cornell University. Lead respondents will include Flix Crdenas, the Plurinational State of Bolivias Vice-Minister of Decolonization and representatives from FAO and ILO.

Invited panellists are:

Carlos Batzin, Maya Kaqchikel, Central American Indigenous Council, Guatemala

Antonella Cordone, IFAD, Coordinator for Indigenous and Tribal Issues, Policy Division

Gerardo Noto, UNDP, Program Specialist, Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean

Joseph Mokinyo Simel, Executive Director, Maiinyoito Pastoralists Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO), Kenya

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society organizations.

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