Indigenous Peoples of Russia Make Strong Showing at 23rd UN Permanent Forum

Indigenous Peoples of Russia Make Strong Showing at 23rd UN Permanent Forum


Delegations from indigenous communities across Russia, spanning Yamal, Kamchatka, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Yakutia, Karelia, and Murmansk Oblast, actively participated in the 23rd session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held in New York City.

Discussions centered on revitalizing traditional economic practices, fostering youth engagement and support within indigenous communities, and ensuring participation in decision-making via Councils of Representatives and other consultative bodies. The session also highlighted the importance of developing corporate policies and standards for responsible interaction with indigenous peoples. Norilsk Nickel's engagement with indigenous communities and consultations regarding their planned lithium mining project in Murmansk Oblast was cited as a positive example.

Forum participants emphasized the need for prior communication and consultation with indigenous communities before publishing research. This collaborative approach helps to avoid factual inaccuracies and interpretations that may not resonate with indigenous perspectives.

Deputy Chairperson of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Antonina Gorbunova, urged UN entities to work together on developing practical guidelines for assessing the effectiveness of the Action Plan for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages. She announced a forthcoming panel discussion on languages at the upcoming July session of the Expert Mechanism, highlighting its potential to analyze progress made during the Decade's initial three years.

The session also showcased the outcomes of two expert seminars held at the initiative of Russia's indigenous peoples. These included an analytical report from the Krasnoyarsk seminar, which supports the ongoing research of the UN Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Rights. The report examines legislation, law enforcement practices, and court rulings, summarizing both challenges and successful examples.

Beyond formal presentations, indigenous peoples from Russia fostered dialogue through meetings with UN experts and leaders from other socio-cultural regions globally, including Athabaskan Chief Harry Harrison, who represents the Athabascan Council, a Permanent Participant of the Arctic Council.

The session also addressed the need for expanded participation of indigenous peoples within the UN system. Discussions with UN General Assembly President's advisor, Belkacem Lounes, focused on current limitations and potential pathways for increased involvement. Concerns were raised by Andrey Metelitsa, head of the Kamchatka Association of Indigenous Peoples and a finalist of the 2023 School of Public Diplomacy, regarding the limited awareness and representation of indigenous communities from Russia within UN processes.

Elizaveta Kuznetsova, a member of the Krasnoyarsk Association of Indigenous Peoples' Youth Council and a winner of the School of Public Diplomacy, actively participated for the first time on such a large-scale international platform. Kuznetsova presented at both the Permanent Forum session and a parallel event titled "Building Indigenous Capacity in Multilateral Diplomacy: Existing Practices and Prospects for Cooperation," organized by KMNSSOYUZ alongside international partners. The dialogue explored educational programs across various socio-cultural regions, with Kuznetsova sharing her experience in the School of Public Diplomacy, its program content, and the project's potential for participants. Joining her as panelists at this event were current members of the Permanent Forum, Dario Jose Mejia Montalvo (Colombia) and Rodrigo Eduardo Pailaleof Monnard (Chile).

Russian experts Alexey Tsykarev and Antonina Gorbunova also participated as panelists in a World Bank side event focused on developing practical guidelines for applying the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) principle, taking into account regional specificities.

The robust participation of Russia's indigenous peoples in the 23rd UN Permanent Forum signifies a significant contribution to safeguarding their rights and interests, while fostering stronger collaboration between indigenous communities and the UN.

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