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The mandate of the Fund

The General Assembly, convinced that the establishment of a voluntary trust fund would constitute a significant development for the future promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous populations, established the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations by resolution 40/131 of 13 December 1985. The original purpose of the Fund was to assist representatives of indigenous communities and organizations to participate in the deliberations of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights by providing them with financial assistance, funded by means of voluntary contributions from Governments, non-governmental organizations and other private or public entities. 

The mandate of the Fund was extended by General Assembly resolution 50/156 of 21 December 1995, by which it decided that the Fund would also be used to assist representatives of indigenous communities and organizations to participate in the deliberations of the open-ended inter-sessional Working Group of the Commission of Human Rights to elaborate the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples established by the Commission in its resolution 1995/32 of 3 March 1995 and endorsed by the Economic and Social Council on 25 July 1995.

With the creation by the Commission on Human Rights in its resolution 1998/20 of 9 April 1998 and endorsed by the Economic and Social Council in its decision 1998/247 of 30 July 1998, of an open-ended inter-sessional ad hoc working group to elaborate and consider further proposals for the possible establishment of a permanent forum for indigenous people in the United Nations system, the Fund’s mandate was further extended. The General Assembly decided in its resolution A/53/130 of 9 December 1998 that the Fund should also assist indigenous representatives to attend the deliberations of the newly established ad hoc working group.

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in its resolution 2000/22 of 28 July 2000 established the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as a subsidiary organ of the Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues within the mandate of the Council relating to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. As a response to this development, the General Assembly on 19 December 2001 by resolution 56/140 further expanded the mandate of the Voluntary Fund to also assist representatives of indigenous communities and organizations in attending, as observers, the sessions of the Permanent Forum. 

In its resolution 63/161 of 18 December 2008, the General Assembly further adjusted the mandate of the Fund so as to facilitate the participation of representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations in the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples established as a subsidiary organ of the Human Rights Council in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 6/36 of 14 December 2007.

In its resolution 65/198 of 21 December 2010, the General Assembly further expanded the mandate of Fund in order to facilitate the participation of representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations in sessions of the Human Rights Council and of human rights treaty bodies.

In September 2012, the General Assembly adopted resolution 66/296, expanding the mandate of the Fund to include support for indigenous peoples to participate in the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, as well as in the preparatory process for the conference.

In December 2013, the General Assembly adopted resolution 68/169, changing the name of the Fund from “UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations” to “UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples”.