The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is the United Nation’s primary body to address issues and concerns pertaining to the economic, social, cultural and educational development of indigenous groups and communities worldwide. This forum stands as an advisory body within the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and provides integral insight with particular importance towards indigenous issues. The inception of the UNPFII occurred in 1993 at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria. It was made an official permanent forum under resolution 2000/22 on July 28, 2000 passed by ECOSOC. The UNPFII is comprised of 15 members that represent seven global socio-cultural regions. Seven of these members are nominated by governments and are elected by ECOSOC. The remaining eight members are selected by the president of the council with proper consultation from various governments.
The UNPFII works on the development of various substantive programs in relation to addressing indigenous issues put forward by ECOSOC. They also work with various UN agencies to develop financial paradigms for various programs in relation to indigenous issues, and help with integration and coordination activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system. This forum works on the dissemination of information in regards to indigenous issues and works on raising awareness for these concerns worldwide. Intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations, UN Bodies, international agencies, Member-States and Indigenous Peoples are all allowed to participate in each session of the UNPFII in advisory capacities. The UNPFII meet annually for 10 days in New York.
At PacificMUN 2018, the UNPFII will be modified so delegates can represent both individual countries and the specialist individuals who are in the forum representing specific regions. UNPFII is designed to offer an innovative experience to people some Model United Nations experience, however, all delegates are warmly invited to join.
The participation of indigenous groups in decision-making processes regarding major policy development is integral to achieving reconciliation between indigenous peoples and states that have followed policies of marginalization and hold legacies for exclusion. It is highly imperative for the promotion of equality within societies and to bring legitimacy to policy decisions for the greater benefit to the status quo. Enduring centuries of exclusion and marginalization from social, political and economic spheres, indigenous peoples have worked tirelessly to improve visibility and involvement within global forums. Historic accomplishments have notably involved the inception of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in 1993 and the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.
Despite greater involvement has been attained by indigenous groups in global contexts, an improved involvement of these groups needs to be adopted to ameliorate various substantive programs and to derive more effective solutions with new perspectives. The right for the participation of indigenous groups in regards to policy development includes a corollary duty for states to consult with indigenous peoples in regards to particular issues that may impact their rights and interests. Henceforth, it is incumbent upon international bodies to ensure this duty is met and that the perspective of indigenous groups is preserved and fully incorporated into the development and implementation of various substantive programs.
Indigenous societies have been increasingly recognised as distinct self governing and autonomous entities. Largely continuing their distinct customs and practices (including their own legal systems), coexist with the systems put into place by the state for which the groups are members of. However, numerous instances have arisen within various contexts for which various practices and customs of indigenous groups have come into direct violation of official state counterparts’ laws and regulations. Historically, punitive approaches have been adopted by these states in order to enforce marginalization and negation of these customs and practices.
However, contemporary solutions move to examine the relationship for which these distinct societies hold with the nation that they are a part of. These amorphous and dynamic relationships are what have challenged international bodies and observer states in developing solutions that accommodate the grievances that each respective party holds. Preserving these practices and customs serve as the crux in retaining traditional cultural influences within shifting modern contexts, although, widespread pressures from mainstream society often deem these practices as being archaic and as detriments to the progress of the status quo. It is imperative that the United Nations work with both states and indigenous groups to develop coherent multilateral solutions that address this multifaceted issue.