Statement of the UN Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues

Statement delivered by UN Women on behalf of the UN Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues, at the 16th Session United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Item 8


Madam Chairperson,


Honourable members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great honour that I present this statement on behalf of the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues (IASG), which UN Women and the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum co-chair this year.

Madam Chairperson,

On behalf of the 42 institutions which make up the IASG, allow me to first of all congratulate you on your election as the Chairperson of the 16th Session of the Permanent Forum.  We also extend our felicitations to the 12 newly appointed members of the Forum and wish to assure you and Forum members of our continued commitment, partnership and support. 

Furthermore, on the occasion of the decade celebration of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration), the IASG salutes indigenous peoples, institutions, experts and human rights defenders all over the world for their unwavering tenacity and contribution to development. 

Madam Chairperson, the IASG was established in 2002 to support and promote the mandate of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and implementation of the Declaration has been our priority since its adoption in 2007. Together with the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), the Declaration has served as a vital catalyst for promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples all over the world.  

In the past decade, a number of us have raised awareness on the Declaration, developed specific policies on engagement with indigenous peoples, designed internal guidelines on seeking free, prior and informed consent where appropriate, or developed internal standards to promote and protect indigenous peoples’ rights. Members of the IASG also support the development of national action plans, service delivery, capacity development, the participation of indigenous peoples in various national, regional and global processes and have consistently condemned threats and attacks against indigenous human rights defenders. 

Madam Chairperson, the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples was an important milestone in the operations of the IASG: you may recall that as an outcome of this Conference, the UN Secretary-General launched the System-wide Action Plan (SWAP) for ensuring a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the 15th Session of the Forum last year.  I am happy to inform you that this Action Plan is enhancing our technical cooperation with Member States and indigenous peoples in a more coordinated and coherent manner. 

The IASG is co-chaired by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum and another rotating agency or agencies on an annual basis.  The co-chairs host annual meetings for purposes of consolidating the gains and lessons of the previous year, as well as for mapping a common strategy for future initiatives.   

In 2016, the rotating co-chairs were the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); and the International Land Coalition (ILC). The annual meeting was hosted in Rome and attended by some 20 institutions, including the Chair and members of the Forum, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a representative from the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. 

I am happy to mention Madam Chairperson, that the meeting was anchored on the implementation of the SWAP within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at national, regional and global levels.  It succeeded in identifying areas of prioritization of individual IASG members, areas of collaboration between members on a number of catalytic initiatives, as well as important lessons learned in programming. 

On behalf of the IASG, the current co-chairs (UN Women and the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum) sincerely thank the FAO, IFAD and ILC for their excellent leadership and active steps towards bringing us closer towards our goal of supporting the Forum, Member States and indigenous peoples realize the implementation of the Declaration. 

This year, the two co-chairs aim to strengthen the implementation of the SWAP at national level and in addition will contribute to the observance of the 10-year anniversary of the Declaration through common advocacy, messaging and communications. 

As a first step, the next IASG global meeting will be held in June 2017 in Quito, Ecuador, to provide members of UN Country Teams with a platform for sharing their perspectives on the integration of the six priority areas of the SWAP into UN Development Assistance Frameworks and country level programming. The meeting will also result in the development of a set of indicators for assisting the IASG in forging a common accountability and reporting framework for the implementation of the SWAP.   

The IASG sees itself at the cross roads of history with the Forum, as we witness a continuing amalgamation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Declaration and the SWAP for a common cause—which is the advancement of indigenous peoples all over the world. We are delighted to be part of this historic epoch and wish you Madam Chairperson, all the members of the Forum, indigenous peoples and Member States herein gathered, every success at this 16th Session.  Thank you for your attention.

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