The second session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took place from 12 thru 23 May 2003 at UN Hqrs in New York City.

The Forum is the first official United Nations body where Indigenous members nominated by Indigenous peoples work side by side with elected government-nominated members. In an arena of Indigenous leaders, civil society and United Nations bodies, the Forum advises and makes recommendations to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on mandated issues: economic and social development, environment, health, human rights, culture, education. The term of the current 16 members will expire at the end of 2004.

Representatives from some 500 indigenous NGOs and communities worldwide observed this second session which focused on the theme “Indigenous children and youth”.

At the opening session, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message, which was read, stressed on the urgency “to firmly establish Indigenous issues as part of the UN system’s daily work...”.

During the two weeks of the session, the six mandated topics of the Forum were discussed. UN agencies, Members states and Indigenous Observers presented their views. This year, economic and social development, environment and health were given priority with human rights, culture, education taking precedence at next year’s session.

At the closing session, H.E. Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), President of ECOSOC for 2003, welcomed the participatory nature of the session, the orderly and efficient proceedings, and the fact that besides the six priority themes of the Forum’s agenda, several cross-cutting issues were addressed such as data and statistics, communications, protection of traditional knowledge and Indigenous intellectual property.

Several side events were presented during the session: films, panel discussions, cultural events and exhibitions.

One of the several UN press conferences scheduled focused on the genocide of the pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As this country’s political crisis is currently on the schedule of the UN Security Council, the PFII Chair Ole Henrik Magga was able to meet with the President of the Security Council.

The third session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will take place from 10 thru 21 May 2004 at UN Hqrs in New York City.

Theme will be “Indigenous women”.


NOMINATIONS for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for January 2005 thru December 2007

DEADLINE for Nominations was March 1, 2004.