Appointment of the Indigenous Peoples expert from Asia for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) for the term of 2020-22

11 July 2019

Dear Indigenous Brothers and Sisters in Asia,

Warm greetings from AIPP!

It is with regret we inform you that Mr. Abdon Nababan, AMAN (the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago), Indonesia, whom you have supported and voted for, has not been appointed as the expert member to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) by ECOSOC. Instead, Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary (from Nepal) has been reappointed by ECOSOC for the term 2020-2022. This will be his second term as the expert member to the UNPFII.

Based on the ECOSOC Resolution 2000/22 on the Establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which include clear procedures for the appointment of the indigenous expert members, the President of ECOSOC has appointed the indigenous nominated members of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) since its inception in 2002, including for the Asia region.

Successive Presidents of the ECOSOC have shown the highest consideration to the transparent and inclusive selection process established by indigenous peoples of Asia in nominating their experts to the UNPFII. The ECOSOC has accordingly followed the principles and practice applied in appointing indigenous experts in the interest of strengthening accountability of the expert representatives selected by indigenous peoples’ organizations across Asia.

We are regretful because the customary practice of nominating the indigenous expert member to the UNPFII in Asia has been sabotaged for the second time; for the 2017-19 term and the recently announced 2020-22 term. We express our disappointed because the appointments of the expert member from Asia was not in accordance with the ECOSOC Resolution which clearly states that the appointment should be based on “broad consultations” with indigenous peoples. We feel that the decision is regrettable and indigenous peoples from Asia feel disenfranchised and excluded from the process.

We would like to reiterate that AIPP facilitated the nomination process in Asia in a democratic manner and support to Mr. Abdon Nababan was unanimous. Accordingly, AMAN had submitted his nomination with the endorsement received from indigenous organizations in Asia. AIPP as regional indigenous peoples’ organization of Asia has been facilitating this process since 2001.

However, we also learned later that Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary had also been nominated. We were not aware of any open parallel process of nomination conducted in Asia for the expert member to the UNPFII. On this account and in the interest of maintaining credibility (of the process established in Asia) and solidarity among indigenous brothers and sisters in Asia, AIPP and its member-organizations in Nepal took the initiative to approach Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary to amicably resolve the matter. Several rounds of meetings were held with Mr. Phoolman on different occasions over a span of few months to which he responded positively and agreed to seriously consider withdrawing his candidature to the UNPFII expert member.

He was also part of the resolution adopted by 26 indigenous peoples organizations of Asia  from 14 countries, whose representatives met in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, on 3-7 March 2019, to press on the President of the ECOSOC to recognize broad based consultations and respect the nomination of Mr. Abdon Nababan as the unanimous candidate from Asia. The resolution was communicated to the President of ECOSOC on 18 April 2019 by AIPP and efforts were also made to meet the President.

We had high expectations from him (Phoolman Chaudhary) given his positive response and his awareness of the potential adverse impact to the credibility of the transparent and inclusive nomination process established in Asia, and to the unity and solidarity among indigenous brothers and sisters.

We are disappointed that Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary chose not to get back to us although he gave his word several times.

Brothers and sisters, we feel obliged to inform you of the above because AIPP values the support and effort that each one of you have given in nominating Mr. Abdon Nababan. Mr. Abdon Nababan has not been selected by the ECOSOC but he is still our chosen leader and he will continue to work with us in strengthening indigenous peoples’ movements and unity in Asia.

Finally, the pattern of appointment of indigenous experts by the President of the ECOSOC is highly disturbing. It is becoming clear that the appointment by indigenous experts is gradually being taken over by Governments and this must be seriously questioned and challenged by indigenous peoples. We seek your continued support and solidarity in this.

In solidarity,

Gam A. Shimray
Secretary General
On behalf of the Executive Council

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