The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) observes August 9 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This global observance was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 through the adoption of Resolution 49/214. The International Day marks the date of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, which took place in 1982, and functions to continue the spirit and working agenda of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, which began on 10 December 1994.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted on September 13, 2007, is regarded by the United Nations as the “most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples.” The Declaration enumerates, inter alia, the rights of indigenous peoples to all human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the ability to maintain and strengthen their distinct institutions while fully participating in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State. The text, which is available here, builds on established international human rights standards and other fundamental freedoms within the context of indigenous issues.
With more than 370 million indigenous peoples living in communities located in more than 90 countries around the world, the international community recognizes its unique responsibility to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The theme of the 2019 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples reflects 2019’s status as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, which was established through the UN General Assembly’s Resolution 71/178.
Coordinated by UNESCO, the collaborative International Year initiative includes primary UN bodies and mechanisms such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Recognizing the central importance of indigenous languages, which cuts across a wide variety of indigenous issues, the International Year works to:
- Increase understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation.
- Create favorable conditions for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of good practices.
- Integrate indigenous languages into a standard setting.
- Empower through capacity building.
- Elaborate new knowledge to foster growth and development.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has prepared a backgrounder document on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which can be downloaded by clicking here. Similarly, an informative Fact Sheet on Indigenous Languages is available here. Official information on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples can be found here, while information on the International Year of Indigenous Languages is available here.