Letter to President of ECOSOC on the appointment of Indigenous Peoples’ expert from Asia for UNPFII 2020-22 term

Appointment of the Indigenous Peoples’ Expert from Asia for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) for the 2020-22 Term

Her Excellency
Inga Rhonda King
President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
And Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations
United Nations Headquarters
New York, USA

30 July 2019

Your Excellency,

Warm greetings from indigenous sisters and brothers from across the world!

We refer to the letter dated 18 April 2019 submitted by AIPP to Your Excellency on behalf of 26 organizations of Asia from 14 countries, whose representatives met in Malaysia on 3-7 March 2019, as well as the 86 organizations from Asia who voted for Mr. Abdon Nababan of AMAN (Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago) for appointment as the expert member to the UNPFII from the Asia region.

We are deeply disheartened that instead of Mr. Abdon Nababan, Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary has been selected as the expert member to the UNPFII from Asia region.

We are disappointed because your decision to appoint Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary to the position is contrary to the overwhelming opinion of Indigenous Peoples of Asia, which has effectively disenfranchised and excluded representation of Indigenous Peoples from Asia in the UNPFII. However, in all cases of appointment of UNPFII members before Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary, from the inception of UNPFII, the President of ECOSOC had appointed Indigenous members from Asia following the mandate given by the Indigenous Peoples of the region.

We would like to reiterate that AIPP had facilitated the nomination of Mr. Abdon Nababan, submitted by AMAN, as the expert member from Asia region through a widely consultative, transparent and democratic process across the region. We reiterate that Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary, did not obtain his mandate through an open process of consultation and nomination across Asia.

In the light of the above, AIPP conducted further consultations among Indigenous organizations and with the two contending candidates with a view towards finding an amicable resolution in the interest of maintaining solidarity and unity among Indigenous Peoples in Asia. Following several rounds of meetings, Mr. Phoolman Chaudhary agreed to seriously consider his withdrawal from the selection process, however, for unstated reasons he did not communicate his final decision to us.

The details of the effort made and information regarding the above were communicated to you through a letter dated 18 July 2019.

We affirm that it is for the historical injustices, which Indigenous Peoples had faced, that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the States and international community with a common resolve to create a more just and peaceful world. Further, the creation of the UNPFII under ECOSOC is to give meaning and support for actualizing the common resolve for addressing the historical injustices and human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The appointment of Indigenous experts for Asia by the President of the ECOSOC for the two consecutive terms against the established past practice is highly disturbing. Such appointments do not conform with the mandate obtained from broad consultations with Indigenous organizations, which were carried out in Asia. We therefore urge your esteemed office to urgently intervene to address our concern in the spirit of enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the UN and in implementing the ECOSOC Resolution 2000/22 with fairness.

In addition, the appointment of the Indigenous Expert for the last two terms clearly contradicts the key principles expressed by Indigenous Peoples from all over the world regarding their effective engagement and participation in the UN processes, which have also been most recently stressed during consultations that are being carried out by the President on the UN General Assembly on possible further measures necessary to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant UN meetings on issues affecting them.

It is also important to note, that Indigenous Peoples’ key demands regarding their right to participate in decision making are based on Art. 18 of the UNDRIP, which recognizes that Indigenous Peoples “have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures”.

Your Excellency, we urge your office to carry out a review and broad consultations with Indigenous organizations and representatives on how ECOSOC Resolution 2000/22, concerning the conduct of broad consultations with Indigenous organizations, can be implemented with fairness. This review is urgent and critical for establishing a clear mechanism of broad consultations with Indigenous Peoples to uphold the purpose and spirit for which the UNPFII was established and to enhance transparency, accountability and participation of Indigenous Peoples in the UN system.

We believe that strengthening and respecting self-selection mechanisms of Indigenous Peoples and the conduct of broad consultations by ECOSOC in the selection of the Indigenous expert members to the UNPFII by your office will go a long way in strengthening unity, ownership, accountability and effectiveness of the UNFPII and ECOSOC.

We remain committed to help build legitimacy and credibility of the UNPFII and ECOSOC regarding its mandate on Indigenous Peoples and strengthening unity among Indigenous Peoples and within the UN system at large.

We look forward to your prompt action in this regard.

Gam A. Shimray
Secretary General

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