United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, September 22-23, 2014
The high-level plenary meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), assembles on Monday, September 22 and Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at the UN headquarters in New York, U.S. The decision to hold the meeting was made by UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/65/198 on December 21, 2010:
Decides to organize a High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to be held in 2014 in order to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of Indigenous peoples, including to pursue the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and invites the President of the General Assembly to conduct open-ended consultations with member states and with indigenous peoples’ representatives in the framework of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur in order to determine the modalities of this meeting, including indigenous peoples’ participation at the Conference (A/RES/65/198).
The President of the UN General Assembly, Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, decided on April 5, 2012 to request Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, Permanent Representative of Mexico and Mr. John B. Henriksen, International Representative of the Sami Parliament of Norway, to conduct inclusive consultations with Member States and representatives of Indigenous peoples on his behalf, on issues concerning the organization and modalities of the World Conference.
September 17, 2012 the UN General Assembly made decisions on the organizational aspects of the World Conference, through the adoption of resolution A/RES/66/296, including the following:
- The World Conference will be composed of two plenary meetings in the form of an opening and a closing session, three interactive round-table discussions and one interactive panel discussion;
- The round-table discussions and the interactive panel discussion will be co-chaired by one Member State and one representative of indigenous peoples who will be proposed by indigenous peoples and subsequently designated by the President of the General Assembly. The co-chairs of the round-table discussions and the panel discussion will present summaries of the discussions at the closing plenary meeting;
- Organizations and institutions of indigenous peoples interested in participating in the World Conference, and whose aims and purposes are in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, should be invited to submit applications for accreditation to the Secretariat through an open and transparent procedure, in accordance with the established practice for the accreditation of representatives of organizations and institutions of indigenous peoples, which will provide for timely and comprehensive information on the participation of such organizations and institutions of indigenous peoples for consideration by Member States;
- The General Assembly requested the President of the General Assembly to organize, no later than June 2014, an informal interactive hearing with representatives of indigenous peoples and representatives of entities of the United Nations system, academic institutions, national human rights institutions, parliamentarians, civil society and non-governmental organizations, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the present resolution, to provide valuable input into the preparatory process for the World Conference;
- The General Assembly decided that the World Conference shall result in a concise, action oriented outcome document, and requested the President of the General Assembly to prepare a draft text, on the basis of consultations with Member States and indigenous peoples and by taking into account the views emerging from the preparatory process and the interactive hearing. It was also decided that the action-oriented outcome document should contribute to the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples, pursue the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and promote the achievement of all internationally agreed development goals;
- The General Assembly encourages Member States, organizations and institutions of indigenous peoples, entities of the United Nations system, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and others to actively support activities and events of indigenous peoples in preparation for the World Conference and to organize side events and other relevant thematic and cultural activities in New York that would add to the value and visibility of the Conference.
What is a high-level plenary meeting?
Though called a world conference, the WCIP is actually designated as a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly. A high-level plenary session differs significantly from an event designated by the UN as a world conference, including financial support, prominence of the event and the number of representatives able to attend. Since the WCIP was established in 2010, Indigenous peoples have successfully lobbied to expand the high-level plenary session to include more involvement, input and representation of indigenous peoples in the proceedings. To learn more about the history of this event and indigenous collaboration to shape this event, see the Indigenous Peoples timeline.
The modalities resolution makes particular note of Indigenous peoples’ participation as follows:
- Three Indigenous representatives to speak at the opening session;
- The interactive round tables and informal panel discussion to be co-chaired by State representatives and Indigenous peoples’ representatives;
- Indigenous organizations and institutions will be accredited through an open and transparent procedure based on existing practice;
- States are to consider the inclusion of Indigenous peoples in their delegations;
- There is special mention of the participation of Indigenous women, youth, elders and persons with disabilities;
- The participation of Indigenous peoples in the informal interactive hearing to be held prior to June 2014;
- Consultation with Indigenous peoples in the preparation of the outcome document to occur in two ways, firstly through the preparatory processes and secondly through a process of consultation, and;
- Indigenous peoples are encouraged to disseminate the results of their international, regional and thematic conferences.
As part of the events leading up the WCIP, an interactive hearing will be held. The modalities resolution requires the President of the General Assembly to organize an informal interactive hearing by June 2014, in order to provide input into the preparatory process. Indigenous peoples, UN agencies, academia, national human rights institutions, parliamentarians, civil society and States are encouraged to participate. Click here for further information on the interactive hearing.
What is the outcome of this meeting?
The high-level plenary meeting will result in an action orientated outcome document. As outlined in the modalities resolution, the President of the General Assembly will prepare the draft text on the basis of consultations with States and Indigenous peoples and take into account the views emerging from the preparatory processes and the interactive hearing. The President will then convene a consultation process to provide input for sufficient consideration by States and agreement by the General Assembly prior to the meeting itself.