International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2013
9 August 2013 (UN Headquarters and worldwide)

This year’s International Day theme was “Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.” The theme aims to highlight the importance of honouring agreements between States, their citizens and indigenous peoples, emphasizing the principles of friendship, co-operation and peace. A special programme of activities took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US. At the opening, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the post-2015 development agenda should incorporate the rights, perspectives and needs of indigenous peoples, who have made clear that they want development that takes into account culture and identity and the right to define their priorities. UN Assistant Secretary-General Shamshad Akhtar, on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, called on everyone to adopt a stronger level of commitment to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Paul Kanyinke Sena, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), stressed the need to address injustices of the past, especially in the post-colonial context of nation building, calling for greater efforts in Africa, and highlighting that honouring treaties, agreements and other arrangements allows for conflicting notions of territoriality, cultural practice and ideas of development to be reconciled for the greater common good. UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay noted that “even when signed or otherwise agreed more than a century ago, many treaties remain the cornerstone for the protection of the identity, land and customs of indigenous peoples, determining the relationship they have with the State.” CBD Executive Secretary Braulio de Souza Dias provided an overview of instruments developed under the Convention related to traditional knowledge, noting they will all contribute to the achievement of Aichi target 18 – that by 2020, the traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities and their customary use of biological resources are respected and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention, with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities.

Irina Bokova, Director-General, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that global sustainability must build on local foundations reflecting the views and needs of local communities, including indigenous peoples; and highlighted UNESCO’s leadership of inter-agency work to include indigenous knowledge in the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). WIPO Director General Francis Gurry stressed that indigenous peoples and local communities have a direct stake in the negotiations underway at WIPO with the objective of reaching agreement on an international legal instrument/s which will ensure the effective protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya stressed that the right of indigenous peoples to recognition and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constrictive arrangements is a key right recognized in UNDRIP. The International Land Coalition affirmed the role of indigenous peoples as custodians of land, water and biodiversity, and highlighted the 2013 Antigua Declaration, which expresses concern over land grabbing and criminalization of customary forms of land and resource use. Visit the Day’s webpage, including links to programme and statements …

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