Published August 9, 2017
UNITED NATIONS – Ten years after the adoption of the United Nations Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, progress has been made in terms of the formal recognition of
indigenous peoples in several countries, but indigenous peoples overwhelmingly continue
to face discrimination, marginalization and major challenges in enjoying their basic rights.
“While indigenous peoples have made significant advancements in advocating for their rights in
international and regional fora,” more than 40 United Nations system entities and other
international organizations said in a joint statement, “implementation of the Declaration is impeded
by persisting vulnerability and exclusion, particularly among indigenous women, children, youth
and persons with disabilities.”
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United
Nations General Assembly on 13 September 2007, establishing a universal framework of
minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples. The
landmark document is the most comprehensive international instrument on indigenous peoples’
collective rights, including the rights to self-determination, traditional lands, territories and
resources, education, culture, health and development.
“The Declaration, which took more than twenty years to negotiate, stands today as a beacon of
progress, a framework for reconciliation and a benchmark of rights,” Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, the
Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the Expert Mechanism on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples said in a joint statement on the day.
“But a decade on, we need to acknowledge the vast challenges that remain. In too many cases, indigenous peoples are now facing even greater struggles and rights violations than they did ten years ago,” they added.
Although some countries have taken constitutional and legislative measures to recognize the rights
and identities of indigenous peoples, exclusion, marginalization and violence against indigenous
peoples continue to be widespread.
Standing Rock water protectors on top of school bus outside the Trump International Hotel where marchers stop to demonstrate in March 2017. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert.
Indigenous experts from Canada, Republic of the Congo, Ecuador and Namibia will look back at the
last decade and discuss the way forward at a special event at United Nations Headquarters in New
York, organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs on Wednesday, 9 August, from
3-6 p.m. UN offices around the world are also celebrating the day with a variety of events and
activities, including in Australia, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.