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Political Science Feature Stories April 23, 2014 Issue

Fourth World Center Prepares Students for May Trip to UN

Fourth World Center Prepares Students for May Trip to UN

The students gather for a group photo during the training.

Forty years ago this year, indigenous peoples from the Americas (American Indians, First Nations, and Alaska Natives) re-emerged in the international political and diplomatic arena, this time at the United Nations.

  Subsequently, indigenous peoples from around the world joined forces to advocate for the passage of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007. An outgrowth of the international movement was the development of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which meets annually at the UN in New York.
 
On March 20, 21 and 22, the Fourth World Center (FWC) for the Study of Indigenous Law and Politics, housed within the Department of Political Science at CU Denver, and the Emerging Indigenous Leadership Institute (EILI), from the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation- near Reno, Nevada co-hosted an intensive diplomacy course to train a new generation of indigenous representatives in international law and the diplomacy at the United Nations. This course in indigenous law and diplomacy marks the beginning of an ongoing collaboration between the FWC and EILI to develop a new cohort of young indigenous international diplomats and advocates.

Twelve indigenous students, five from EILI, and seven from CU Denver, successfully completed the training, taught by:

  • Professor Glenn Morris (Shawnee) from CU Denver Political Science
  • Dr. Debra Harry (Northern Paiute), from the University of Nevada/Reno, who also directs the Indigenous Peoples’ Council on Biocolonialism. (Dr. Harry will be offering an online course for CU Denver in fall, 2014: PSC 4002, “Globalization, Biocolonialism and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”)
  • Ms. Sharon Venne (Cree), an internationally-renowned attorney and legal representative for First Nations in Canada. Ms. Venne has been active at the UN on behalf of indigenous peoples for forty years. 

The three-day course prepared students for their participation in the annual session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York City, to be held from May 12-23. The UNPFII is the main UN forum to address concerns of indigenous peoples from around the world, and to recommend changes in laws and policies for the advancement of the rights of indigenous peoples.  The graduates of the course will be fully-credentialed participants at the UNPFII, engaging in active discussion and debates about treaty rights, natural resource development and environmental protection for all species. The UC-Denver students are also actively involved in the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus and the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus. 2014 is the fourth consecutive year that the Fourth World Center, in collaboration with the Native American Student Organization and American Indian Student Services at UC-Denver, has sponsored student participation at the UNPFII.