International Day | World | People | 10th August 2021 | Virtual Wire
August 9 marks the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It is observed each year around the world to protect the rights of the indigenous population.
The event acknowledges the achievements and contributions of the indigenous peoples. The commemoration takes place in recognition of the inaugural session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations at the United Nations in 1982, in Geneva.
It was the first meeting where the UN body was tasked with drafting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In April 2000, The Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution to set up the Permanent UN Forum on Indigenous Issues that was presented by the Economic and Social Council.
The forum focused and discussed the issues related to education, culture, economic and social development, environment, health, human rights, among other areas. The goal was mainly to strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by the global indigenous population.
Each year, UNESCO marks this day by sharing updates on projects and activities relevant to the annual theme. UNESCO addresses the multiple challenges indigenous peoples face, acknowledges their role in sustaining the world’s cultural and biological diversity and seeks support.
With 370-500 million indigenous peoples representing the majority of the world’s cultural diversity, they speak the greater share of almost 7000 languages in the world. To date, numerous indigenous peoples experience extreme poverty, marginalisation, and other human rights violations.
This August 9, International Day of Indigenous Peoples, we must demand indigenous peoples’ inclusion, participation and approval in the constitution of a system with social and economic benefits for all.
That is why the 2021 theme is “Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.” But, what does it mean? A social contract is an unwritten agreement that societies make to cooperate for social and economic benefits.
In many countries, where indigenous peoples were driven from their lands, their cultures and languages denigrated and their people marginalised from political and economic activities, they were never included in the social contract, to begin with. The social contract was made among the dominant populations.
Over recent years and decades, various societies have sought to address this, including through apologies, truth and reconciliation efforts, legislative reforms, as well as constitutional reforms, while at the international level, these efforts have included the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and advisory bodies such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Despite the existence of international instruments to respond to these inequalities, not all are embarked on the collective journey to ensure that no one is left behind, including indigenous peoples. Therefore, the building and redesigning of a new social contract as an expression of cooperation for social interest and common good for humanity and nature is needed.
The new social contract must be based on genuine participation and partnership that fosters equal opportunities and respects the rights, dignity and freedoms of all. Indigenous peoples’ right to participate in decision-making is a key component in achieving reconciliation between indigenous peoples and States.
To commemorate the day, the official Twitter handle of United Nations Development wrote, "Indigenous peoples are unique. Today and every day let's raise awareness about their cultures, traditions, languages, knowledge and heritage to protect their rights across the world.”
Back home, Congress took to Twitter to observe the day and wrote, "On International Day of the world’s indigenous people, we pay our respect to the indigenous people of the country, their contribution and fight to save natural resources hold great importance in the world today."