International Day of the World’s Indigenous People


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We celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9.



Photo credit, from top to bottom: Bernardo Ramonfaur, Trevor Cole, Bernardo Ramonfaur, Simon Sun.

Many indigenous peoples continue to be confronted with marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations.

By resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples shall be observed on 9 August every year. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. In 1990, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 1993 the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (A/RES/45/164 and A/RES/47/75)

Each year, UNESCO marks the celebration of the Day by sharing information on projects and activities that are relevant to the annual theme.

Indigenous peoples live in all regions of the world and own, occupy or use some 22% of global land area. Numbering at least 370-500 million, indigenous peoples represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity, and have created the major share of the world’s almost 7000 languages. Through partnerships with indigenous peoples, UNESCO seeks to support them in addressing the multiple challenges they face, while acknowledging their significant role in sustaining the diversity of the world’s cultural and biological landscape.


“Indigenous peoples are now increasingly exposed to forced migrations, which are often the result of environmental disasters or social and political conflicts. Driven from their territories, they see their lifestyles and cultures disintegrate and vanish, often without any prospect of returning. […] On this International Day, we reaffirm our full commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, and we call on the international community to mobilize to ensure the full respect of indigenous peoples’ dignity, well-being and fundamental freedoms.”

— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, Message on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

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How to get involved

International days are celebrations and calls to action. They are for everyone to participate in. This is how you can take part in an International Day in three simple steps.


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Why are International Days important? They provide unique opportunities to transmit UNESCO values to the world.


International days also provide a unique opportunity to engage citizens on global issues, to mobilise political will and resources to address these problems, but also to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity as well as remember some of our darkest times as they guide us towards building a better world.

The United Nations International Days are for everyone, all around the globe. Because they are open, you can have an important role to play in them. NGOs, universities, schools, press and more will be putting together campaigns, events, and calls to action worldwide to provide further opportunities to engage, learn, and transmit the values and knowledge associated with each International Day. They serve as an important vehicle to connect the local to the international.

At their root, UN International Days contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the UN Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues. International days are at the heart of the United Nations Charter. They work to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.

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