Do your bit: Focus on days highlighting international issues International Days and Observances
International Day of the World's Indigenous People
9 August
In 1994, the General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World's Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year during the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (resolution 49/214 of 23 December). The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

In 1990, the General Assembly proclaimed 1993 the International Year of the World's Indigenous People, and in 1993, the Assembly proclaimed the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, starting on 10 December 1994.

The goal of the Decade was to strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health. The Coordinator of the Decade was the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and its theme "Indigenous people: Partnership in action".

Since then, 9 August has been celebrated as the International Day of the World's Indigenous People. The theme for the day in 2014 was: "Bridging the gap: Implementing the rights of indigenous peoples"

This commemoration is an opportunity to celebrate the richness of indigenous cultures and the contributions of indigenous peoples to the human family. But more importantly, it is a chance for men and women everywhere to take stock of the situation of indigenous peoples in our world today, and of how much more needs to be done to improve their lives.

For far too long, indigenous peoples’ lands have been taken away, their cultures denigrated or directly attacked, their languages and customs suppressed, their wisdom and traditional knowledge overlooked or exploited, and their sustainable ways of developing natural resources dismissed. Some have even faced the threat of extinction.

On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, let us remember the most fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter – peace, development and human rights – and reaffirm our determination to broaden the circle of solidarity for indigenous peoples so that these principles are turned into practice for indigenous peoples everywhere.

- Kofi Anan, Former UN Secretary General

On 22 December 2004, the General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/59/174 for a Second International Decade, which commenced on 1 January 2005.

The Decade has five main objectives:

  • Promoting non-discrimination and inclusion of indigenous peoples in the design,implementation and evaluation of international, regional and national processes regarding laws, policies, resources, programmes and projects;
  • Promoting full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in decisions which directly or indirectly affect their lifestyles, traditional lands and territories, their cultural integrity as indigenous peoples with collective rights or any other aspect of their lives, considering the principle of free, prior and informed consent;
  • Redefining development policies that depart from a vision of equity and that are culturally appropriate, including respect for the cultural and linguistic diversity of indigenous peoples;
  • Adopting targeted policies, programmes, projects and budgets for the development of indigenous peoples, including concrete benchmarks, and particular emphasis on indigenous women, children and youth;
  • Developing strong monitoring mechanisms and enhancing accountability at the international, regional and particularly the national level, regarding the implementation of legal, policy and operational frameworks for the protection of indigenous peoples and the improvement of their lives.


Additional Resources:

GDRC has been working on themes related to this international day/observance, in its programme on Heritage Conservation and Management.

GDRC therefore reaffirms its committment to uphold the objectives of the International Day of the World's Indigenous People, and work towards better understanding of, and action on, promoting and protecting the heritage represented by indigenous peoples.

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