·Sur Journal – Abstract

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Reflections on the Role of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in relation to the Millennium Development Goals

Indigenous peoples are one of the strongest critics of the dominant paradigm of development because of how this has facilitated the violation of their basic human rights, which includes their rights to their lands, territories and resources, their cultures and identities. So-called “development” also has led to the erosion and denigration of their indigenous economic, social and governance systems. Ten years after the MDGs came into being, it is about time to see whether these have taken indigenous peoples into account and whether the implementation of these have led to changes in the way development work is done. This paper examines the relationship of the Millenium Development Goals to the protection, respect and fulfillment of indigenous peoples’ rights as contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It analyzes whether the MDGs as constructed and implemented have the potential to contribute towards a more dignified life for indigenous peoples. It looked into some of the efforts of various actors, such as indigenous peoples, part of the UN system, including the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and NGOs have done in relation to the MDGs. The Permanent Forum is the highest body in the UN addressing indigenous peoples and which is mandated to look into human rights, economic and social development, education, culture, health and environment. Some recommendations which emerged from this study include the need to use the human-rights based approach to development in implementing the MDGs and the need to set up culturally-sensitive social services.

Original in English.

Submitted in May 2010. Accepted in July 2010.