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International Day of Indigenous Peoples at the UN

Posted by Jordan Gardiner on August 9, 2017 in News

On August 9th, the UN celebrated International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, by calling on Member States to start putting words into action and delivering equality and full rights for all indigenous people. In addition to celebrating the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples at the UN Headquarters in New York, they also celebrated  the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The UNDRIP was created in 2007 as an instrument for indigenous people’s collective rights. In addition to rights such as self-determination, traditional lands, territories and resources, education, culture, etc., it also created minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples. Despite being a comprehensive international declaration, indigenous peoples still face high levels of poverty, racism and discrimination worldwide. During the event on August 9th, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Zhenmin Liu, reminded attendees of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s commitment to leave no one behind and to help advance indigenous peoples’ rights.

Following Liu’s statement Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, Cree, Canada explained that true reconciliation between words and actions is like an eagle with two wings. One wing is UNDRIP and the other is made of other legal instruments such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, International Labor Organization Conventions and many more. He continued to explain that in order for the eagle to fly, both wings need to work together with the highest standard being chosen. Read More.

The UN Member States also negotiated a draft resolution entitled “Enhancing the Participation of Indigenous Peoples’ Representative and Institutions in Meeting of Relevant UN Bodies on Issues Affecting Them’. This resolution will help to enhance indigenous peoples’ participation in UN processes. The UN Member States are hoping to have the resolution adopted during the 71st UN General Assembly session. Find out more.

Article adapted from SDG Knowledge Hub