Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Last week the General Assembly of the UNO adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was approved with 143 Member States voting in favor, 11 abstaining and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voting against.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said ‘the importance of this document for indigenous peoples and, more broadly, for the human rights agenda, cannot be underestimated. By adopting the Declaration, we are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all’.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments and civil society to ensure that the Declaration’s vision becomes a reality by working to integrate indigenous rights into their policies and programs.

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates there are more than 370 million indigenous people in 70 countries worldwide.

UN News Center

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF)

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