United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Plenary meeting of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII or PFII) is the UN's central coordinating body for matters relating to the concerns and rights of the world's indigenous peoples. "Indigenous person" means native, original, first people and aboriginal. There are more than 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries worldwide. The forum is an advisory body within the framework of the United Nations System that reports to the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The first indigenous to be elected to office at a United Nations meeting was Chief Ted Moses of the Grand Council of the Crees in Canada, in 1989.


The creation of the Permanent Forum was discussed at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action[1] recommended that such a forum should be established within the first United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples (see below). A working group was formed and various other meetings took place that led to the establishment of the permanent forum by the UN Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/22[2] on 28 July 2000.

How it works[]

The Forum is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council. It submits recommendations to the Council on issues related to indigenous peoples. It holds a two-week session each year which takes place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City but it could also take place in Geneva or any other place as decided by the forum.


The mandate of the Forum is to discuss indigenous issues related to social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights. The forum is to:


Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, speaks at the body's 2015 session.

There are 16 independent experts appointed for a three-year term. At the end of their current term, they can be re-elected or re-appointed for another term. Of these 16 members, eight are nominated by the member governments and eight directly nominated by indigenous organizations. Those nominated by the governments are elected to office by the Economic and Social Council based on the representation of each regional grouping of states (see below). Those nominated by indigenous organizations are appointed by the President of ECOSOC and represent the seven socio-cultural regions for broad representation of the world's indigenous peoples.

Members of the Permanent Forum, January 2017 to December 2019
Member Region Country of Origin Nominated by
Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine Africa Mali Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations
Jens Dahl Western and other States Denmark Governments
Jesus Guadalupe Fuentes Blanco Latin America and the Caribbean México Governments
Phoolman Chaudhary Asia Nepal Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations
Terri Henry North America United States of America Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations
Brian Keane North America United States of America Governments
Aisa Mukabenova Eastern European States Russian Federation Governments
Anne Nuorgam Arctic Finland Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations
Dmitrii Kharakka-Zaitsev Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia Russian Federation Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations
Elifuraha Laltaika Africa United Republic of Tanzania Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations
Gervais Nzoa African States Cameroon Governments
Les Malezer Pacific Australia Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations
Lourdes Tibán Guala Latin America and the Caribbean Ecuador Indigenous Peoples’ Organization
Seyed Moshen Emadi Asia-Pacific States Iran Governments
Tarcila Rivera Zea Latin American and Caribbean States Peru Governments


To date, seventeen sessions have been held, all at the UN Headquarters, New York:

  1. First Session, May 2002
  2. Second Session, May 2003. Special theme: "Indigenous Children and Youth".
  3. Third Session, May 2004. Special theme: "Indigenous Women".
  4. Fourth Session, May 2005. Special Theme: "Millennium Development Goals and Indigenous Peoples with a focus on Goal 1 to Eradicate Poverty and Extreme Hunger, and Goal 2 to achieve universal primary education".
  5. Fifth Session, May 2006. Special theme: "The Millennium Development Goals and indigenous peoples: Re-defining the Millennium Development Goals".
  6. Sixth Session, May 2007. Special theme: "Territories, Lands and Natural Resources".
  7. Seventh Session, April 2008. Special theme: "Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of indigenous peoples and new challenges".
  8. Eighth Session, May 2009. Review year.
  9. Ninth Session, May 2010. Special Theme: "Indigenous peoples: development with culture and identity; articles 3 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples".
  10. Tenth Session, May 2011. Review year.
  11. Eleventh Session, 2012. Special Theme: "The Doctrine of Discovery: its enduring impact on indigenous peoples and the right to redress for past conquests (articles 28 and 37 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples)".
  12. Twelfth Session, 2013. Review Year
  13. Thirteenth Session, 2014. Special Theme: “Principles of good governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: articles 3 to 6 and 46”
  14. Fourteenth Session, 2015. Review Year
  15. Fifteenth Session, 2016. Special Theme: “Indigenous peoples: conflict, peace and resolution”
  16. Sixteenth Session, 2017. Special Theme: “Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: measures taken to implement the Declaration”
  17. Seventeenth Session, 2018. Special Theme: “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources”


The Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established by the General Assembly in 2002. It is based in the New York Headquarters within the Division for Inclusive Social Development.[3] of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs[4] The Secretariat, among other things, prepares the annual sessions of the Forum, provides support and assistance to the Forum's members, promotes awareness of indigenous issues within the UN system, governments and the public, and serves as a source of information and a coordination point for indigenous-related efforts.

International Decade of the World's Indigenous People[]

First decade[]

The first International Decade of the World's Indigenous People "Indigenous people: partnership in action" (1995–2004) was proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 48/163[5] with the main objective of strengthening international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as human rights, environment, development, health and education.

Second decade[]

The Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People "Partnership for Action and Dignity" (2005–2015) was proclaimed by the General Assembly at its 59th session,[6] and the programme of action was adopted at the 60th session.

Its objectives are:

Regional groupings[]

The five regional groupings of states as used by the United Nations are: Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe and other countries.

The seven socio-cultural regional groupings are:

See also[]


External links[]