The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) observes August 9, 2017 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 through Resolution 49/214, the annual observance commemorates the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982. This year’s observance marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, originally signed on September 13, 2007.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is regarded as the “most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples,” represents a “global consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples” and also provides a framework of minimum standards for maintaining the “survival, dignity and well-being” of these communities. The document, available here, builds on human rights standards and other fundamental freedoms within the context of indigenous issues.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues produced a statement for the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Declaration’s signing. Among other considerations, the statement explains that:
Although there has been major progress in implementing the Declaration over the last decade, there continues to be a gap between the formal recognition of indigenous peoples and implementation of policies on the ground. As a result, indigenous peoples continue to face exclusion, marginalization and major challenges in enjoying their basic rights.
The statement also recognizes advances in national-level legislation as important “steps to recognize the identity and rights of indigenous people.” It identifies several countries in Latin America – including Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and the Plurinational State of Bolivia – as well as others around the world, including Kenya, as leaders in this effort.
On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the Auschwitz Institute stands with indigenous communities in all parts of the world who continue to fight for and defend the essential rights and protections outlined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. AIPR calls upon the international community to expand efforts aimed at strengthening indigenous rights and reinforcing measures for truth, memory, and justice, all of which contribute to the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities.