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APF members address global indigenous forum

Graphic: Opening session of UNPFII, 24 April 2017

APF members have added their voices to a global discussion of the challenges facing indigenous peoples and the areas where progress is being made.

Representatives from five APF member institutions have added their voices to a global discussion of contemporary challenges facing indigenous peoples, as well as areas where progress has been made to advance their rights and culture.

With support from the APF, the national human rights institutions (NHRIs) of Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and the Philippines took part in the 16th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), held in New York from 24 April - 5 May 2017.

The focus of this year's meeting was to assess measures taken to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the ten years since it was adopted by the UN General Assembly.

The participating NHRIs shared aspects of their work alongside indigenous communities to advance their rights and promote respect – by government, business and others – for the key principles that underpin the Declaration.


Young indigenous girl performs traditional dance, Philippines

"When indigenous peoples enjoy their rights and well-being, then the society as a whole is healthier and a better place for us all," Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, UNPFII Chairperson, told delegates at the 16th Session.


In addition to describing their work with and for indigenous communities, APF members used their speaking opportunities to encourage UNPFII to build on the participation of 'A status' NHRIs and their coordinating committees in its proceedings.

The APF and its members have been active in pursuing greater participation rights in a range of UN bodies, including with the Commission on the Status of Women, the Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the High Level Political Forum associated with the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Open Ended Working Group on Ageing (which, in December 2016, amended its rules of procedure to enable the participation of 'A' status NHRIs).

"As with our advocacy at the Commission on the Status of Women, our goal is to ensure that NHRIs have the same opportunity to contribute to the UN mechanisms of the General Assembly in New York as they do with the UN Human Rights Council bodies in Geneva," said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.

This was recognised in December 2015 when the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for NHRIs to be given the opportunity to contribute independently to the work of different bodies within the UN system in New York.

Date: 15 May 2017


Graphic: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar (centre)

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Image credits

  1. Opening session of UNPFII, 24 April 2017 - UN Women/Ryan Brown, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2rkCPH1
  2. Young indigenous girl performs traditional dance, Philippines - Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines