Observing International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

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There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries.

August 9 is commemorated as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982.

Each year this day is celebrated around the world. A commemorative event is also organized at the United Nations Headquarters in New York by the Indigenous Peoples and Development Branch – Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which brings together indigenous peoples’ organisations, UN agencies, Member States, civil society, academia and the general public.

See below a message from the Secretary-General of the United Nation on the occasion 

Indigenous peoples have a profound spiritual connection to their lands and resources. Yet, increasingly, indigenous persons are migrating within their countries and across international borders. The reasons are complex and varied. Some are subject to displacement or relocation without their free, prior and informed consent. Others are escaping violence and conflict or the ravages of climate change and environmental degradation. Many migrate in search of better prospects and employment for themselves and their families.

Migration is an opportunity, but it also carries inherent risks. Many indigenous migrants find themselves living in unsafe and insanitary conditions in urban areas. Indigenous women and girls experience disproportionately high rates of trafficking and other forms of violence. Indigenous youth are faced with complex questions regarding their identity and values.

In some countries, indigenous peoples’ territories are divided by international borders. Cooperation across these borders is important to safeguard their identity, occupations and traditional practices.

Later this year, Member States are expected to adopt a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This will establish an international framework for regional and global cooperation. It will provide a platform to maximise the benefits of migration and support vulnerable migrant groups, including indigenous peoples. It is essential that the rights and identities of indigenous peoples are protected.

On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realising the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources. And, wherever they live, let us ensure that indigenous peoples enjoy recognition for their contributions and the opportunity to thrive and prosper in peace on a healthy planet.

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