8 August 2017

Indigenous Peoples Still Face Exclusion, Vulnerability Despite Recent Progress, More than 40 United Nations Agencies Say in Joint Statement

Ten years after the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, progress has been made in terms of the formal recognition of indigenous peoples in several countries, but they overwhelmingly continue to face discrimination, marginalization and major challenges in enjoying their basic rights.

“While indigenous peoples have made significant advancements in advocating for their rights in international and regional fora, implementation of the Declaration is impeded by persisting vulnerability and exclusion, particularly among indigenous women, children, youth and persons with disabilities,” more than 40 United Nations system entities and other international organizations said in a joint statement.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 September 2007, establishing a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples.  The landmark document is the most comprehensive international instrument on indigenous peoples’ collective rights, including the rights to self-determination, traditional lands, territories and resources, education, culture, health and development.

In a separate joint statement issued on the Day, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples said:  “The Declaration, which took more than 20 years to negotiate, stands today as a beacon of progress, a framework for reconciliation and a benchmark of rights.”  However, it added that “a decade on, we need to acknowledge the vast challenges that remain.  In too many cases, indigenous peoples are now facing even greater struggles and rights violations than they did 10 years ago.”

Although some countries have taken constitutional and legislative measures to recognize the rights and identities of indigenous peoples, exclusion, marginalization and violence against indigenous peoples continue to be wide‑spread.

Indigenous experts from Canada, Congo, Ecuador and Namibia will look back at the last decade and discuss the way forward at a special event at United Nations Headquarters in New York, organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs on Wednesday, 9 August, from 3 to 6 p.m.  United Nations offices around the world are also celebrating the day with a variety of events and activities, including in Australia, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

Partnering with Twitter to Amplify Visibility

To elevate the profile of the anniversary on social media, the Department of Public Information partnered with Twitter to create and promote a branded emoji for the hashtags #WeAreIndigenous and #IndigenousDay that will be live from 8 August to 15 September, covering both the International Day (9 August) and the actual date of the adoption of the Declaration (13 September).

“Recognizing the popularity and value of ‘emojis’ in reaching wider and younger audiences, we are grateful to Twitter for partnering with the United Nations by introducing a special emoji for the International Day," said Maher Nasser, Acting Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.  “The emoji is a new and exciting way to raise the profile of the International Day and engaging broader audiences in promoting indigenous peoples’ rights,” he added.

“Twitter helps people see every side.  Empowering indigenous peoples to share their unique cultures and perspectives in a global conversation using #WeAreIndigenous and #IndigenousDay is consistent with that mission,” said Colin Crowell, Global Vice-President of Public Policy and Philanthropy of Twitter.  “Marking the tenth anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in partnership with the UN with tweets will help amplify awareness about the important goals of the Declaration.”

About International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is commemorated annually on 9 August, in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, held in Geneva in 1982.  The International Day was established by the General Assembly in December 1994.

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries around the world.  Practising unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.

Media contact:  Martina Donlon, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  +1 212 963 6816, email:

The joint statement by the Inter-Agency Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues is available at

The joint statement by the Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is available at

For more information on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, please visit

On Twitter, please follow #WeAreIndigenous, #IndigenousDay, #UNDRIP and @UN4Indigenous.

On Wednesday, 9 August, the 11 a.m. press conference and 3 p.m. special event will be available via webcast at

For information media. Not an official record.