The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (Permanent Forum) is an expert body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with a mandate to provide advice on Indigenous issues to ECOSOC and, through it, to the UN agencies, funds and programmes; to raise awareness on Indigenous Peoples’ issues; promote the integration and coordination of activities relating to Indigenous Peoples’ issues within the UN system; and promote respect for and full application of the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and follow up on its effectiveness.
International Processes & Initiatives
Every year IWGIA reports on the situation of Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Our global report, The Indigenous World, documents the state of Indigenous Peoples' rights in countries on all continents with detailed country reports authored by distinguished experts, Indigenous activists and scholars.
It is IWGIA's hope that Indigenous Peoples and their organisations will find our reports useful in their advocacy work, and that a wider audience will use our information on Indigenous Peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World has been published every year since 1986.
This section focuses on International Processes and Initiatives which have a special focus on Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous Peoples have rights over their traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources, including associated intellectual property rights, as recognized in Article 31 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, conventional intellectual property laws, in large measure, are woefully inadequate in protecting these rights. In the absence of effective legal recognition and protection, Indigenous Peoples’ intangible cultural heritage, ranging in forms from textile designs to traditional songs, medicinal plant knowledge and environmental conservation, is often treated as being in the “public domain”, and misappropriation by those within the fashion, film and pharmaceutical industries, among others, is widespread and ongoing.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) was established in accordance with Article 30 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a mandate to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights on the continent. It was officially inaugurated on 2 November 1987 and is the premier human rights monitoring body of the African Union (AU). In 2001, the ACHPR established a Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa (WGIP), marking a milestone in the promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Africa.
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is one of the 58 “special procedures” of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The special procedures are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.
The Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty under the United Nations (UN) adopted in 1992. The Convention has three objectives: to conserve biodiversity, to promote its sustainable use, and to ensure the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from its utilisation (Art. 1).
The Convention has developed programmes of work on thematic issues such as marine, agricultural and forest biodiversity, and on cross-cutting issues such as traditional knowledge, access to genetic resources and protected areas. All the programmes of work have a direct impact on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and territories. The Convention recognises the importance of traditional knowledge (Art. 8j) and customary sustainable use of biological resources (Art. 10c) for the achievement of its objectives.
The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum for promoting cooperation in the Arctic. The Arctic Council is unique in that, in addition to eight Arctic States, six Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ organizations are granted Permanent Participant status and are institutionally important participants in the Council. Permanent Participants represent the Arctic Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic Council and participate at all levels of the Arctic Council’s work.