Navajo Human Rights Commission advocates for full and regular participation within the United Nations

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director

For Immediate Release

Navajo Human Rights Commission advocates for full and regular participation within the United Nations

UNITED NATIONS—Speaking before the United Nations today, Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission (NNHRC) Executive Director Leonard Gorman stated the Navajo Nation’s continued support for permanent and regular participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and governing institutions within the U.N. system. 

The NNHRC is charged with the responsibility to advocate for Navajo human rights including fundamental indigenous human rights such as the right to self-determination and protection of its lands, territories and resources. 

Indigenous peoples including the Navajo Nation have worked on a proposal since March 2016. The goal of the proposal is to enhance indigenous peoples’ representatives and governing institutions participation within the U.N. The proposal includes identification of venues of participation, development of an accreditation mechanism and accreditation committee composition.

Currently, the Navajo Nation must go through a nongovernmental organization or civil society in order to be heard at the U.N.

Gorman said establishing a body that would assess the selection of indigenous nations and peoples to participate in the U.N. systems is important. 

“We too share in the nation-states concerns that ‘indigenous peoples’ would come out of the woodwork, if you will. Who best knows indigenous people than other indigenous people,” added Gorman.

Gorman underscored the Navajo Nation’s support for establishing a new body consisting of indigenous peoples to assess the application of indigenous peoples and nations seeking to participate in the United Nations.

“Having gender and including youth, balance is also an important contribution to the new body. While existing bodies such as Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues are well-respected entities, it’s essential to continue the expansion of indigenous peoples’ involvement within United Nations. The final decision on the participation of indigenous peoples and nation in the United Nations should be left to the General Assembly,” added Gorman.

In his closing remarks, Gorman articulated the administration of the new process must be on a permanent basis. “While the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum made the effort to accommodate the indigenous peoples for this session, a more permanent administrative support is necessary.”

The Navajo Nation participated in all U.N. consultative meetings and provided its recommendations to the advisors to the president of the U.N. General Assembly.

Gorman met with representatives of South Africa and Canada to discuss consultation provisions in the proposal.

The intergovernmental negotiations among member states within the U.N. begins May 5 and continues May 8. The U.N. General Assembly will consider the proposal in September.


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