top of page

UN Permanent Forum

The idea for a permanent United Nations forum was conceived at the UN Conference in Geneva in 1977, but took 24 years to bring to fruition.


The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) was created in 2001 and holds its sessions at the United Nations in New York City in May each year. The UNPFII is an advisory body to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council and is mandated to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

Tonya Gonnella Frichner, an Onondaga lawyer, served as Vice Chair and the North American Regional Representative to the UNPFII from 2008-2011. Her firm, the American Indian Law Aliance, is a non-profit organization that works with indigenous nations, communities, and organizations in their struggle for sovereignty, human rights, and social justice in the U.S. and internationally.

In the video below, Frichner talks about the Law of Mother Earth established by President Evo Morales of Bolivia. The second video below is even more amazing!

In the fascinating video Tonya Frichner: Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Frichner talks about the historic meeting of 364 Native American leaders with President Obama where they urged him to sign the UN Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous People's, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, but vetoed by the U.S. Obama reversed the U.S. position in 2010.

Fricher was asked to write the "Preliminary Study on the Doctrine of Discovery and Its Effects on Indigenous Peoples Globally" and present it to the UNPFII. The paper has served as the foundation for the conferences on the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery and how to address them.


​The concept of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was also first conceived at the UN Conference in Geneva in 1977. It was adopted  by the United Nations in 2007 -- 30 years later!



bottom of page