The International Day
of the World's Indigenous People August 9
"It is essential to know and understand the deeply spiritual special relationship between indigenous peoples and their land as basic to their existence as such and to all their beliefs, customs, traditions and culture. […] Their land is not a commodity which can be acquired, but a material element to be enjoyed freely (1).
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 .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.
Already 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 on10 December 1994. The goal of the Decade is to strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health.
The world's population of indigenous people now numbers some 350 million individuals representing over 5,000 languages and cultures in more than 70 countries on every continent. Many live on the fringes of society, in sometimes precarious and impoverished conditions. Their material, environmental and spiritual situations, together with their world-views and intimate relationship with the land and natural resources, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of globalization. The resulting instability, aggravated by dispossession from their land and natural resources, has disrupted the handing down of their cultural heritage from one generation to the next.
UNESCO, along with the rest of the United Nations system, plays a crucial role in efforts to implement "partnership in action" for the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995-2004) proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations to "strengthen international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health".
1-Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations, J. Martinez Cobo, United Nations Special Rapporteur (1987).