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UN Consultations, Enhanced Participation for Indigenous Peoples in the UN

U.S. Intervention: “Selection Mechanism” (Segment 3)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

— We continue to believe that a new body is needed, as opposed to using existing bodies such as the PFII, EMRIP, and the NGO Committee. The new body should consist of state and indigenous representatives.

— It would appear that the body would have to exist within the General Assembly as opposed to ECOSOC, because of the institutional division of responsibilities within the UN.

— Both the member state and indigenous members be chosen from the UN’s seven indigenous socio-cultural regions, rather than the UN’s five geographic regions, following the lead of the Permanent Forum and now EMRIP. Focusing on the seven regions for the selection mechanism would make it appropriately representative of the world’s indigenous population.

— We do not have an exact number of members in mind. There should be enough members to handle the workload, but not so many that decision- making would be unwieldly. Fourteen – seven indigenous representatives and seven state representatives – may be workable at first. The appropriate number would depend on the number of incoming applications. It also seems likely that even if 14 are needed to handle an initial surge of applications, this number may need to be reduced as time goes on and we settle into a more steady state.

— We do not yet have a set position on the number of annual in-person meetings the body would have – whether one, two, or three would be enough. Video meetings and other electronic means can and should augment the in-person sessions to increase efficiency and keep costs down.

— The selection body should determine its own working methods, guided by cost considerations, fair decision-making, and efficiency. Because the PFII Secretariat has expertise in vetting applications, it may be able to provide important support to the selection mechanism, though this needs further thought since the Permanent Forum is an ECOSOC subsidiary and this is a General Assembly body.

— We envision that an applicant seeking enhanced participation privileges would respond to a questionnaire and submit supporting documentation. This process would probably be better than oral testimony, at least in most instances. Oral testimony is expensive to arrange.

— Deliberations on the applications should be private to allow for frank discussion, but to further transparency into how decisions are made, the selecting mechanism should provide the reasons for its negative decisions in writing.

— The body should aim to work by consensus.

— Because the selection mechanism cannot be efficient unless decisions are made in a timely way, firm deadlines should be set for processing applications.

— The selection mechanism should have the final say on who receives enhanced participation privileges, without the General Assembly having to affirmatively approve its decisions, or being able to veto its decisions.

— On financial considerations, we would follow the usual practice and ask the Secretariat about the UN budgetary implications associated with the selection mechanism. Containing costs and ensuring efficiency remains a U.S. priority.

U.S. Department of State

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