One of the largest tribes in the United States recently asked me how to get involved at the United Nations. Like many tribes, they are interested in taking their place in the World community and working to protect indigenous rights in this country and globally. Their question was: How do we get started?
Here are some concrete steps:
Pass a resolution within your tribal council to support your Nation’s involvement at the United Nations.
Read and review the recommendations of many tribal governments for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. These include:
Sign on to support the recommendations. So far, more than 72 Indigenous nations have endorsed the recommendations.
If you wish, request a briefing or training for your leadership on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and United Nations structure. We will try to schedule it.
Make plans to attend the preparatory meetings prior to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014. The preparatory meetings are the most important. Most of the negotiation on the actions to be taken by the UN at the Conference will take place before the World Conference event. (Note scheduled meetings include a Preparatory Meeting in Mexico City, April 2-4, 2014; and an interactive dialogue with UN member countries in New York in June 2014.)
It is important that Indian nations be involved in UN activities to protect out rights and interests as nations and tribes, particularly with the climate of hostile and unsympathetic domestic courts and agencies. The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples provides a critical opportunity to achieve effective and lasting action by the UN system that can seriously improve how Indian nations and other indigenous peoples are treated by the countries of the world.
Robert T. Coulter