UNPFII Focuses on Free, Prior and Informed Consent

27 May 2011: The 10th Session of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 16-27 May 2011, focused on reviewing progress made on issues ranging from economic and social development to the environment, and whether indigenous peoples have given free, prior and informed consent to decisions affecting their communities, and human rights issues. 

The Forum concluded with the adoption of a draft report, including eight consensus texts on a broad range of issues that will be brought to the attention of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for consideration. Among the consensual texts, the Forum adopted a revised draft report on matters regarding follow-up to its recommendations on economic and social development, environment and free, prior and informed consent (document E/C.19/2011/L.2), including a request to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to develop voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests. The Forum decided, among other things, to appoint Kanyinke Sena, Mirna Cuningham and Bertie Xavier to conduct a study on indigenous peoples' rights and safeguards in projects related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, also due at its 12th session. It called on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and States parties thereto to develop mechanisms to promote the participation of indigenous peoples in all aspects of the international dialogue on climate change.

In addition, during the Forum, calls were also made for a full investigation of the possible impacts of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and other low-carbon or green economic strategies.

The Forum noted that ‘consultation' cannot replace or undermine the right of indigenous peoples to prior and informed consent. It also noted that it would consider the development of guidelines on the implementation of free, prior and informed consent in collaboration with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

On the preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20), participants called on member States to ensure equal and meaningful participation of indigenous peoples at the Summit, by including representatives in official delegations and in the preparatory regional implementation meetings. The Forum called for the equal, direct and meaningful participation of indigenous communities during all stages of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, planned for 2014.

The Forum adopted a set of recommendations related to its special focus region, Latin America and the Caribbean (document E/C.19/2011/L.5).  It decided to conduct a study on extractive industries in Mexico, with a focus on the situation of indigenous peoples in the territories where those industries are located.

The 11th session of the UNPFII will be held in New York, US, from 7-18 May 2012, and is expected to include a discussion on the right to food and food sovereignty. The Forum will also host a three-day international expert group meeting on the theme “Combating violence against indigenous women and girls.” [UN Press Release, 17 May 2011][UN Press Release, 18 May 2011] [UN Press Release, 19 May 2011] [UN Press Release, 20 May 2011] [UN Press Release, 24 May 2011] [UN Press Release, 25 May 2011] [UN Press Release, 26 May 2011] [UN Press Conference, 27 May 2011] [UN Press Release, 27 May 2011] [10th Session of the UNPFII]