Awareness: Promoting the rights of world’s indigenous peoples

Published by rudy Date posted on August 8, 2014

During the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (1995-2004), the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed August 9 every year as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. In 2004, the UN proclaimed a Second International Decade (2005-2014), as “A Decade for Action and Dignity” for indigenous peoples (IPs). The decade strengthens international cooperation for resolving problems faced by IPs in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and socio-economic development.

This year’s celebration is organized under the theme “Bridging the Gap: Implementing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” focusing on policies and programs at both national and internationals levels with governments, the UN System and partners, and IPs working together towards a common goal of promoting IP rights, enshrined in UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted on September 13, 2007, and celebrating their rich language, culture and tradition. The Philippines voted in favor of the UN Declaration in 2007.

The day honors the diverse indigenous cultures and recognizes the achievements and valuable contributions of the estimated 400 million IPs in over 90 countries around the globe, constituting 5% of world’s population, in resolving issues such as environment protection and uplift of their communities. Nations and peoples are urged to spread the UN message on IPs.

“Indigenous peoples are free and equal to all other individuals,” the UN said. Guaranteeing access to opportunities and supporting an enabling environment where IPs are empowered, develop their full potential, and exercise their rights, in harmony with their traditional values are at the core of UN’s work.

Activities include educational forum, dialogue and consultation, exhibit and performance by indigenous artists, and school programs for better appreciation and understanding of IP needs and aspirations.

The Philippines is in solidarity with the global celebration. The Philippine Constitution recognizes, respects, and protects the rights of IPs to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions, and institutions. The government and partner institutions help IPs in their quest for cultural preservation, survival, and empowerment. Measures have been adopted to promote and protect their rights, especially human rights.

Republic Act 8371, the landmark Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, guarantees rights to ancestral domain, self-governance and empowerment, social justice and human rights, education and cultural integrity.

There are more than 14 million IPs in the country, most of whom are in Mindanao. They get culture-sensitive basic education that respects their identity and cultural heritage. IP leaders are trained on how to protect their rights and involve themselves in decision-making. Anti-poverty programs ensure IP inclusion in community development, while interventions enhance IP health and nutrition status, especially of women and children. –Manila Bulletin

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