Fawn Sharp, Quinault Indian Nation president

Fawn Sharp Calls for Seating of Indigenous Nations in United Nations

June 21, 2013


Following the two-day international conference of indigenous nations in Alta, Norway on June 12, where the Alta Outcome Document and goals for the 2014 United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples was established, Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp applauded the outcome of the conference.

Sharp addressed key delegates and nations with her applause in favor of the document and emphasizing the need for seating representatives of indigenous nations as nations in the United Nations.

The Sami Parliament hosted the Global Indigenous Peoples Preparatory Conference. More than 400 indigenous nations were in attendance and added to the outcome of the document that should aid the U.N. World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to be held in New York City in September 2014, as it prepares to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, according to Sharp.

“Indigenous nations and each U.N. member now have clearly focused issues on which to base government-to-government negotiations. These negotiations can help eliminate violence against indigenous nations caused by rampant development which pollute lands and waters and force Indigenous Peoples out of their territories. Indigenous nations and states' governments may now see a path to establishing constructive solutions to long festering conflicts. We must see these negotiations begin in earnest in 2014,” Sharp said.

The Quinault Indian Nation will promote the Alta Outcome Document according to Sharp, and seek to engage the U.N., its member states and specifically the United States government, with a focus on four areas:

1. Establishment of a permanent indigenous body with a mandate to promote, monitor and review the implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including but not limited to those affirmed in UNDRIP, and that such a body be established with the full, equal and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples: in the spirit of the U.N. Trusteeship Council. We urge that Indigenous governments (constitutional and customary) be seated as formal voting members (rotating membership embracing all U.N. regions).

2. Violence against indigenous women and children must become the central focus of a high-level international conference.

3. The U.N. must emphasize full and actual adoption of Article 4 of UNDRIP by states, formalizing “government-to-government” negotiations (between states' governments and constitutional or customary indigenous governments) as a principal method for conflict resolution, and the application of the principle of “free, prior and informed consent;” and that “consultations” serve only as a preparatory step leading to formal negotiations between indigenous constitutional or customary governments and the state government supervised by an independent third party.

4. Finally, the U.N. must take action to “recognize indigenous constitutional and customary governments” by seating them in an appropriate U.N. forum with a dignified and appropriate status of regular participants in U.N. activities. We urge furthermore that the U.N. recognize the unique position that Indigenous Peoples have as individuals belonging to distinct nations, and therefore their nations may represent them or they may be represented in the U.N. system along with other civil society participants.

 “The Quinault Indian Nation is committed to engaging U.N. member states and indigenous governments throughout the world to advance these proposals and other Alta [Outcome Document] positions that are reasonable, realistic and achievable for indigenous nations,” Sharp said.