Aqqaluk Lynge appointed to UN’s indigenous forum

“It looks as if it is going to be a very exciting time”



NUUK — Aqqaluk Lynge, the former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and current president of Greenland’s ICC, has been appointed to serve on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Lynge’s appointment to the forum is by acclamation, since Lynge is the only nominee from Europe and the Arctic, and will be confirmed when the forum starts its third session next week at UN headquarters in New York.

“It’s not a job. There’s no money attached to it — it’s an appointment and ICC has been looking forward to this for a very long time,” Lynge said.

The forum has 16 members serving three-year terms, of whom eight are nominated by indigenous people, and eight by governments.

Lynge is one of eight indigenous members who were nominated to the forum, starting in January, 2005.

“I have a very close relationship with the others, so it looks as if it is going to be a very exciting time,” Lynge said.

The forum, which Sami leader Ole-Henrik Magga was chosen to head in 2002, meets once a year to hear indigenous opinions on issues touching human rights or environmental and social issues, as well as grievances. It also makes recommendations to the UN on economic and social development, culture, human rights, the environment, education and health.

Even though he’s not expected to specifically represent Inuit or Saami issues, Lynge said his ICC background is “a good foundation” for speaking about climate change.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will open the third session of the forum, which runs from May 10 to 21.

Some 1,500 people representing more than 500 indigenous groups worldwide are expected to attend the session.

The UN decided to focus this year’s session on indigenous women, who, together with indigenous girls, represent some of the most vulnerable and victimized peoples in the world.

“As keepers of gender-specific traditional knowledge and culture, it is mainly through the indigenous woman that traditional language and culture is transmitted from one generation to the next,” says the news release.

Next week, ICC chair Sheila Watt-Cloutier will be in New York as a member of a panel on indigenous women and to participate in a discussion on education.

Throughout the past year, as a lead-up to this session, and following recommendations made by the second session, governments hosted several international meetings on the subject of indigenous women.

At the session, the forum will look at economic and social development, the environment, health, human rights, culture, and education. It will also address how to work within the UN system.

Also scheduled throughout the session are numerous films, presentations, exhibitions and panel discussions on a variety of topics, including biological diversity, genetic technologies, labour rights, indigenous connectivity, and traditional knowledge and peace-building.

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