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Economic and Social Council

An intense debate unfolded today in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as participants in a lively dialogue with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) pressed the Geneva-based body to reform in ways that afforded greater recognition of indigenous peoples in its decision-making processes and respect for their right to safeguard, preserve or promote traditional resources as they saw fit.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues today again rang with strong calls on former colonial Governments to reassess their constitutional arrangements and restore the “first nation” status of native peoples, and on the Catholic Church to openly denounce the centuries-old “Doctrine of Discovery”, which many civil society representatives said was the “shameful” root of the humiliation and marginalization indigenous people still suffered today.
The Doctrine of Discovery had been used for centuries to expropriate indigenous lands and facilitate their transfer to colonizing or dominating nations, speakers in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stressed today, urging the expert body to study the creation of a special mechanism, under United Nations auspices, to investigate historical land claims.
Indigenous peoples must be involved “every step of the way”, and only with their free, prior and informed consent, in all efforts to define priorities and programmes for their sustainable and culturally appropriate development, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said this morning, opening the eleventh session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Many youth delegates had spoken candidly about their experiences and expectations throughout the week-long session, said Population Commission Chairman late Friday following adoption of a key draft resolution, reminding members that “what really matters is what happens outside this room, when we are back in our capitals,” where, “we have to walk the talk, to move from paper to people.”