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UN Consultations, Enhanced Participation for Indigenous Peoples in the UN

U.S. Intervention: “Participation Modalities” (Segment 2)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

— On participation modalities, the United States supports a new and separate category for indigenous representative institutions. They would have this unique status and be identified in the UN as such, and have their own participation procedures and selection criteria.

— Establishing this new category for indigenous representative institutions would not affect how NGOs working on indigenous issues participate in the UN now. NGOs can seek to participate through the NGO accreditation process.

— During the April 2016 online consultation, the United States suggested a new set of participation procedures that uses the current PFII procedures as a template and makes appropriate modifications. The new procedures would identify representatives of indigenous governing or analogous institutions and set forth rules for how they may participate. We have brought copies of that mark-up with us today, and would be happy to share it with anyone who wants to see it.

— We envision that the new procedures would enable indigenous governing institutions to attend sessions of the relevant UN bodies, submit written input, and make oral statements in accordance with a meeting’s rules of procedure.

— IF NEEDED TALKING POINT. On whether indigenous governing institutions should be allowed to give rights of reply, the United States needs to reflect more on that question.

— We would not support indigenous institutions routinely taking part in drafting or negotiating sessions or voting on resolutions, as we see these as member state responsibilities. We would, however, continue to welcome the current practice of indigenous representatives and NGOs sharing their drafting ideas.

[Rationale: others noted that for the annual HRC indigenous peoples resolution, NGOs take part in the drafting process. We may want indigenous institutions to do the same.]

— We have heard some participants raise concerns about the logistics of how to accommodate new participants in UN meetings, but these concerns are manageable. NGOs take part in UN meetings in an orderly way, including in delivering statements. Working methods can be devised to accommodate indigenous institutions, including providing a set number of speaking slots and adhering strictly to time limits.

— On how to allocate speaking slots and time limits, it would be fairer and more efficient simply to have indigenous representative institutions inscribe on a first-come, first-served basis, rather than attempting to divide the time equally among the seven indigenous regions. While all seven regions should of course have the opportunity to provide input, it may well be that not all regions are equally represented in each meeting. For example, at a particular meeting, there may be more indigenous institutions from some regions than others.

— The United States does not object to designating seating for indigenous representative institutions, as appropriate for the forum in question. This would be consistent with the practice at many UN meetings, where certain groups – among them member states, UN organizations, and NGOs – are often seated in their own sections.

— On the suggestion that indigenous institutions be given precedence over NGOs for speaking, we do not think there can be an absolute rule to this effect. If many indigenous institutions wish to speak, that could mean that NGOs would not have the opportunity to provide any input whatsoever. NGOs should continue to have allotted speaking time. Other arrangements could be developed to enable both indigenous representative institutions and NGOs to speak.

U.S. Department of State

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