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UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)
The UNPFII is the UN’s central coordinating body for matters relating to the concerns and rights of the world’s Indigenous Peoples. There are more than 370 million Indigenous People in 70 countries worldwide. Within the UN system, the UNPFII is an advisory body that reports to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.
UNPFII sessions are held annually for two weeks in April or May at the UN headquarters in New York City. The first Session was held in May of 2002. ICC had lobbied and worked for this Forum for over a decade. As in the case of the Arctic Council, ICC contributed significant human and financial resources to the work of the Permanent Forum.
The Permanent Forum is significant for Inuit and other indigenous peoples globally in that it is the only high-level UN body in which non-State-appointed individuals are members.
The Forum is composed of 16 independent experts, functioning in their personal capacity, who are appointed to three-year terms. At the end of their term, they can be re-elected or re-appointed for one additional 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 then elected to office by the Economic and Social Council based on the five regional groupings of the United Nations. Whereas those nominated by indigenous organisations are appointed by the President of ECOSOC and represent the seven socio-cultural regions for broad representation of the world’s indigenous peoples. Inuit and Saami are thus represented by the member for the Arctic region.