Agenda Item 3: Half-Day Panel Discussion, Indigenous Peoples
The U.S. government places importance on the high-level UNGA meeting known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, consistent with our policy to strengthen our relationship with Indian tribes and include indigenous peoples’ concerns in our broader policy objectives.
We support an inclusive preparatory process for the World Conference. The United States will hold a listening session with U.S. indigenous representatives on October 11 in Washington, so that we can hear their suggestions and expectations for the Conference.
As the World Conference would be enhanced by consideration of a wide range of views, broad indigenous input is essential. In consultations prior to the high-level meeting, the concerns of all indigenous peoples must be heard, with no groups being marginalized. Throughout the world, including in my own region of North America, indigenous peoples have leaders who are either elected through a democratic process or appointed through traditional processes to represent their peoples. The preparatory process would benefit from the observations of these leaders along with other persons.
Concerning the outcome document from the June 2013 preparatory meeting in Alta, the United States does not think that text should be the starting point for negotiations on an outcome document for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Rather, the recommendations contained in the Alta document should be considered during negotiations on the high-level meeting outcome document.
The participants to the World Conference should include representatives designated by indigenous peoples, including representatives of tribal governments. Civil society partners – including non-governmental organizations that represent indigenous women and youth and indigenous persons with disabilities – should also have the opportunity to participate in the Conference. All processes for selecting credible representatives of indigenous governments must be completely transparent. The PFII Secretariat, working with the seven indigenous regional caucuses and the two thematic caucuses on youth and women, are involved in identifying the indigenous representatives who will participate in the World Conference. We appreciate the briefing the Secretariat provided to member states several months ago, and we welcome continued dialogue on this issue.
The World Conference’s roundtables, with their interactive format, will allow for indigenous peoples’ meaningful participation. The roundtable themes do not need to refer only to individual Declaration articles, but can also focus on current best practices for issues that cut across multiple Declaration articles. Possible topics could include “Lands, resources, the environment, and economic development;” “Cultures of indigenous peoples, including information about Indian cultures in their educational curricula and teaching Native languages;” and “Business and its impacts on indigenous peoples.”
The General Assembly resolution on the World Conference calls for a concise, action-oriented outcome document. Such a political statement with recommended actions to improve the status of indigenous peoples is an appropriate product of the high-level meeting. It would also be useful to have a longer Chair’s text, which would give a thorough account of the substantive roundtable and panel discussions. We also recommend that arrangements be made to receive input – including in written, electronic, pre-recorded, or telephonic format – from indigenous peoples and others who are unable to attend the World Conference in person.
We welcome the panelists’ views on appropriate topics for the World Conference’s roundtable discussions, as well as their suggestions on what the outcome document could contain.