9th AUGUST: International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

19 August 2017
Author  Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post

“Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated.” - United Nations

BAROTSELAND, being an indigenous nation and member of UNPO, The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, joins UNPO, The United Nations and the world in commemorating this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

According to the United Nations, UN, Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.

Despite their cultural differences, the UN further observes, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.

Currently, the UN reports an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world's population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world's estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated.

The UN is saddened that Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. As such, the international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.

UNITED NATIONS ON THE 2017 THEME: 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Ten years ago, on 13 September 2007, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a major milestone with respect to the cooperation and solidarity between indigenous peoples and Member States.

The Declaration is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples. It embodies global consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples and establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being. It elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms, as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples.

Over the last decade, the implementation of the Declaration has achieved some major successes in at the national, regional and international levels. Despite the achievements, there continues to be a gap between the formal recognition of indigenous peoples and the implementation of policies on the ground.

See the press release.

Read more about this year's observance.

On Twitter, follow #WeAreIndigenous and @UN4Indigenous


In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly voted for the establishment of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, celebrated since then every 9 August. This year [2017] will also mark, on 13 September, the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a milestone in the struggle against the discrimination and the violence that many of the world’s 370 million indigenous people have been subjected to. The anniversary of this declaration is the theme of this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day to honour diversity and the triumphs related to indigenous rights in the last decades, whilst also remembering the dire situation in which countless indigenous communities still live today.

In April 2017, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) participated in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) raising awareness for the plights of UNPO’s indigenous members and reaffirming the organisation’s commitment to standing up for indigenous rights. In addition to this, UNPO organised a variety of events raising awareness of Brazil’s indigenous communities, such as conference at the European Parliament and two documentary screenings focussing on the issues faced by the Guarani-Kaiowá, following UNPO’s mission to Brazil in December 2016.

UNPO stands with indigenous peoples on this special date to remind the international community that there is still much to be done in order to guarantee indigenous communities’ right to their culture, heritage, and fundamental human rights. Moreover, respecting indigenous peoples’ rights also means standing up for the environment. In the words of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, “when Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their lands are protected, they are the best guardians of the world’s forests and biodiversity”. UNPO will continue to work tirelessly for the indigenous peoples who struggle against oppression and violence and who are not given a voice in the international fora.

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