NEW YORK—After a two-week forum at United Nations headquarters in New York, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues adopted its final report on Friday, May 6. The meeting was called nearly two hours late due to a dispute over which languages ​​would be included in the report.

Truth, reconciliation and justice

One of the highlights of the report was the decision of the Forum to create a working group dedicated to truth, reconciliation and transitional justice, including in post-conflict areas, for a lasting peace that respects the rights of indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective inclusion, including indigenous women.

The group was requested by Shawnee Chief Ben Barnes and Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. Its core will be made up of the three indigenous members of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Sheryl Lightfoot (Anishinaabe First Nations), Laila Susanne Vars (Norwegian-Sami) and Megan Davis (Aboriginal Australian). It will also include other indigenous peoples, academics and representatives of civil society groups.

Social Determinants of Health for Indigenous Peoples

The Permanent Forum’s report also recommends that the World Health Organization integrate the culture of indigenous peoples into its policies on the social determinants of health, and that the WHO review, update and expand its policies on health of indigenous peoples.

Youth delegate Anpo Jensen (Oglala Lakota) and National Indian Health Council Vice President Nickolaus Lewis both requested that the Permanent Forum include them as action points.

Lewis encouraged the UN to make the public health concerns of the world’s indigenous people “a top and urgent priority”.

In response to Jensen’s testimony linking mining in South Dakota’s Black Hills to disproportionately high suicide rates among Oglala Lakota youth on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the Forum called on the United Nations for Food and Agriculture and WHO to amend their codes of conduct on pesticide management to include the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.

The Permanent Forum also called on Canada and the United States of America to develop national action plans “to achieve the objectives of UNDRIP [United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples] and appointing an ambassador or special envoy for global indigenous affairs to promote the rights of indigenous peoples around the world, including in relation to participation.

The 22nd session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will be held next year. Its theme will be a rights-based approach to indigenous peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health and climate change.

“It’s always a holistic theme,” said the Permanent Forum’s rapporteur, Tove Søvndahl Gant (Denmark). Indigenous News Online.

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About the Author

Jenna Kunze
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Personal editor

Jenna Kunze is a reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. His bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Smithsonian Magazine and Anchorage Daily News. In 2020, she was one of 16 American journalists selected by the Pulitzer Center to report on the effects of climate change in the Arctic region of Alaska. Previously, she was a senior reporter at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. Kunze is based in New York.