UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples - Last session

Session 2017

The 30th session of the Board of Trustees took place at Palais des Nations in Geneva from 23-27 January 2017. Ms. Mirna Cunningham was elected Chairperson of the Board.

Having examined the applications in light of the selection criteria, the Board recommended for approval to the Secretary-General:

  • 25 grants for representatives of indigenous organizations to attend the 16th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII);
  • 20 grants for representatives of indigenous organizations to attend the 10th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  • 4 grants for representatives of indigenous organizations to attend the 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group.

Additionally, the Board recommended the allocation of the following number of grants to be awarded throughout the year:

  • 30 grants for representatives of indigenous communities and organisations to attend the sessions of the Human Rights Council, the UPR Working Group, and the treaty bodies that will take place from July 2017 to March 2018; and
  • 21 grants for representatives of indigenous organisations and institutions to attend the General Assembly Consultation Process Aiming to Enhance the Participation of Indigenous Peoples’ Representatives in United Nations Meetings on Issues Affecting Them.

In addition, the Board held 21 private meetings and examined information prepared by the Secretariat concerning the implementation of recommendations adopted at its 29th session, the extension of the mandate of the Fund, the financial status of the Fund, fund-raising efforts, policy issues and capacity building of grantees.

On 24 January 2017, the Board of Trustees held its annual meeting with representatives of donor countries and other interested governments, as well as a meeting with the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries in the United Nations. Representatives of nineteen member states attended the meetings with the Board including Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Djibouti, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, United States of America, Zambia and the Permanent Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations.

The members of the Board thanked member states for their past contributions and highlighted the impact the Fund has had on beneficiaries and their communities, not only as a tool to enhance participation in international human rights bodies, but also as a capacity-building mechanism, which has allowed hundreds of indigenous leaders and activists to have their first experience in international advocacy. Several board members of the Voluntary Fund, as well as numerous members of other UN mechanisms and many prominent indigenous human rights defenders currently active in the international arena, are former grantees of the Voluntary Fund.

States expressed their strong support to the work of the Fund and commended the excellent work done by the Board and secretariat of the Fund. Some states requested more information from the Board regarding their strategy for widening its donor base, including private donors and business enterprises, and regarding its criteria to select grantees.