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PERMANENT FORUM AND THE ECOSOC
PERMANENT FORUM AND THE ECOSOC
The Sixteenth Session of the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will be held from April 24, 2017 to May 5, 2017, at the United Nations' Headquarters in New York City, NY.

This Session's Special Theme is the "Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Measures taken to implement the Declaration".

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The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), is just one of three UN bodies that is mandated to deal specifically with indigenous peoples' issues. The other two are the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The UNPFII serves as a high-level advisory body to the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The ECOSOC is at the heart of the United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits. The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was not established until much later on July 28, 2000, with the mandate to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. More specifically, the Permanent Forum:
  • Provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the Council, as well as to programmes, funds and agencies of the United Nations, through ECOSOC;
  • Raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system;
  • Prepares and disseminates information on indigenous issues The Permanent Forum holds annual two-week sessions.
The first meeting of the UNPFII was held in May 2002, with yearly sessions thereafter. The Forum usually meets for 10 days each year, at the UN Headquarters in New York. According to the ECOSOC resolution E/2000/22, the Forum may also meet at the UN Office in Geneva or at such other place that it decides.

There are six mandated areas (economic & social development, culture, environment, education, health, and human rights) focused upon each year, plus, each annual session is thematically focused on a specific issue. During the Forum's first six sessions, a specific theme was discussed each year. However, since 2008, it has adopted a bi-annual working method where one year has a specific theme and the following year, the focus is a review of the implementation for that specific theme.