Explanation of position by Terri L. Robl, Minister Counselor for United Nations Economic and Social Council, at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, September 17, 2012

Teri Robl
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
New York, NY
September 17, 2012


Thank you Mr. President. The United States would like to add its thanks to Ambassador de Alba of Mexico and Mr. John Hendrixson for their efforts in facilitating the discussions of the modalities of the High-Level Plenary meeting of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

There are more than 370 million indigenous peoples who live in some 90 countries around the world. We honor their immeasurable contributions to society, and call upon all States to work together with indigenous communities to meet our common challenges.

Throughout negotiations on this document, we have underscored the important role indigenous peoples and civil society organizations should play through their participation in this Conference. The process of admission for civil society organizations, including non-governmental organizations, to participate in this Conference must be completely transparent.

Operative paragraph 3(h) states that indigenous peoples’ organizations and institutions “should be invited to submit applications to the Secretariat through an open and transparent accreditation procedure, in accordance with established practice,” but we are not aware of a set practice in this regard. The procedures of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples differ from each other. This resolution does not define a process by which indigenous groups will be accredited to the high-level meeting and therefore, this issue will require further consideration by Member States, in consultation with indigenous people and other stakeholders.

We understand operative paragraph 3(j) to mean that the list of NGOs and other potential participants will be sent to the General Assembly for its consideration, where Member States will evaluate any possible objections made by other States.

Operative paragraph 9 concerns the World Conference outcome document. As the World Conference is a high-level meeting of the General Assembly, Member States have the responsibility to negotiate the outcome document and consider it for adoption. However, Indigenous peoples’ input from the preparatory process and the World Conference itself will be taken into account during the negotiations. These concepts are contained in operative paragraph 9, which refers to “an inclusive and open informal process of consultations … in order to provide input for sufficient consideration by Member States and agreement by the General Assembly prior to formal action at the high-level meeting.”

We are also concerned with operative paragraph 12, which “requests the President of the General Assembly in consultation with Member States, as well as representatives of Indigenous Peoples, to finalize the organizational arrangements of the World Conference.” All decisions about the World Conference that are not delegated in this paragraph should remain with the Member States.

Thank you Mr. President. The United States looks forward to continued cooperation to make the World Conference a productive session.


PRN: 2012/188