UN Country Teams

Secretary-General meets with indigenous peoples' representatives in Bolivia. 2015

The basis for UN Country Teams’ support to Member States on indigenous issues is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), which establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples. To support the implementation of the Declaration, the UN Development Group in 2008 adopted specific guidelines to assist the UN system to mainstream indigenous peoples’ issues into the operational activities and programmes at the country level. In addition to the Declaration, the ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and the Outcome Document from the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples provide further guidance.

Why focus on indigenous peoples?

All over the world, indigenous peoples face exclusion, discrimination and multiple challenges in terms of threats to their cultures, languages and identity. Indigenous peoples should therefore be part of the United Nations’ core work. Video: The Secretary-General calls for UN colleagues’ commitment

Recognition of indigenous peoples

The recognition of indigenous peoples varies from country to country, and region to region. There are some governments who do not recognize the existence of indigenous peoples. However, a comprehensive international framework is in place, providing for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights. This includes:

Video: The Secretary-General speaks about indigenous peoples’ recognition

Global framework for leaving no one behind

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an improved framework to work on indigenous peoples’ issues compared to the Millennium Development Goals, where indigenous peoples were almost invisible. The 2030 Agenda also reflects a strong commitment by world leaders to confront inequality, marginalization and to leave no one behind. The United Nations has an important role to play in making this a reality for indigenous peoples. Video: The Secretary-General calls for indigenous peoples to be included in the 2030 Agenda and Video: The Secretary-General encourages Member States to take action on the SDGs.

To learn more about indigenous peoples and the 2030 Agenda, click here.

System-wide action plan

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meets for 10 days each year, at UN Headquarters in New York. In regards to indigenous peoples’ issues, a system-wide action plan has been developed with the specific objective of enhancing coherence and coordination within the UN system. “What I am really asking you, is that we should break the normal attitude of working in silos and avoid duplications… You must think as one, act as one and deliver as one. This is the best way to fully utilise our limited resources,” said the Secretary-General, also encouraging the World Bank and IMF to be part of that process together with UN Country Teams. Video: The Secretary-General speaks on UN delivering as one.

Tools for UN Country Teams