Asia Caucus Statement on enabling participation of indigenous peoples in the UN

Comments of Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus in relation to draft two of compilation of views on possible measures to enable the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them

Thank you, Chair.

On behalf of Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus, we thank the President of the General Assembly for organizing this consultation process and submit our comments on possible ways and means to enhance the effective participation of indigenous peoples in the UN with reference to the second compilation of views.

  1. The Asia Caucus supports the proposal for participation of indigenous peoples, through their governing institutions, in the General Assembly with the same rights as the vast majority of current holders of observer status.
  2. In relevant UN meetings, indigenous peoples’ governing institutions should receive priority over non-governmental organizations but shall take into account a balance with indigenous representative organizations that have clear constituents with respect to attending meetings, seating and order of speaking and should enjoy relaxed limitations and rules on length of their oral statements and written submissions as provided to others. This shall also include effective participation during consultations on draft resolutions and proposing agenda items.
  3. Indigenous peoples’ representatives, organizations and institutions must be able to exercise their right to participation in all bodies of the UN, including in the General Assembly and its main committees and relevant Conference of Parties and specific UN treaty bodies. Some bodies with direct implications for indigenous peoples are the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies, including the Commission on the Status of Women, Commission on Social Development  among others; the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies, as well as meetings of UN programmes and specialized agencies as appropriate.

Mr. Chair,

While Asia is home to two-thirds of indigenous peoples worldwide, we are not officially recognized in many States in the region. Hence, we strongly recommend the following in relation to the criteria and process in determining those eligible to participate in the UN system:

  1. State’s legal recognition should not be a necessary criterion for indigenous participation in the UN system. The current accreditation process for participation in the annual session of the UN Permanent Forum is an example where the legal recognition of states is not required, allowing an inclusive participation of indigenous peoples across the globe.
  2. The criteria should enable those who self-identify as indigenous peoples and confirmed by other indigenous peoples as per Article 33 of the UNDRIP based on the working definition of the Martinez Cobo study.
  3. Indigenous peoples should have equal say as the States in determining the criteria and process to qualify under new participation measures. Such criteria should be based on principles such as Paris Principles for the NHRIs.
  4. The body to determine eligibility should be balanced in geographic and gender representation and set up its operational procedures to accredit indigenous peoples’ representatives, organizations and institutions in consultation with indigenous peoples. This shall also take into account the representation and participation of indigenous women, youth and persons with dis-abilities.
  5. Accredited indigenous representatives, organizations and institutions should have access to the highest levels of decision-making within the UN system.
  6. New participation measures should not prejudice the participation as appropriate of indigenous peoples’ organizations that are organized and/or accredited as non-governmental organizations under ECOSOC rules.

The Asia Caucus expresses it full cooperation with the work of the co-facilitators and will send additional substantive inputs as appropriate towards strengthening the participation of indigenous peoples in the UN system.

Thank you.

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