Secretary-general calls for renewed determination to ensure peace, development,
human rights for indigenous people, in international message
Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message on the International Day of the World Indigenous People observed 9 August:
This year we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, launched by the United Nations General Assembly together with the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People.
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.
Indigenous peoples have been coming to United Nations fora for many years to appeal for the support of the whole United Nations family. A dialogue and partnership with the United Nations has been launched in the context of the International Decade. That process needs to bear fruit through decisive action at the regional, national and local level, including to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In those efforts, governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society must work to empower indigenous peoples and ensure their participation in decisions that affect their lives.
On this 10th anniversary of the 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.
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