top of page

UNESCO actions on engaging with indigenous peoples address the following paragraphs, inter alia, of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Affirming that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such,

Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources,

Acknowledging that the Charter of the United Nations,


the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, affirm the fundamental importance of the right to self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, Emphasizing that the United Nations has an important and continuing role to play in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples,

Believing that this Declaration is a further important step forward for the recognition, promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples and in the development of relevant activities of the United Nations system in this field.

The adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was the result and highlight of many years of work. For the approximately 370 million indigenous peoples in some 90 countries around the world, UNDRIP is an expression of their rights and place in the global community. The cultural and linguistic heritage of indigenous peoples contributes to the world’s diversity. Their knowledge and practices have enhanced respect for the environment and the natural resources of the world's communities, food security, health and education. Indigenous peoples’ knowledge of traditional medicines, for example, has contributed immensely to protecting the health of both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. UNDRIP is the most advanced and comprehensive Declaration on indigenous peoples’ rights. 

What is a declaration?

A declaration is an agreement among countries about a specific issue that requires urgent action. It tells us what governments must do or not do around such an issue.

Who are indigenous peoples?

Indigenous peoples are descendants of the original people or occupants of lands before these lands were taken over or conquered by others. Many indigenous peoples have maintained their traditional cultures and identities (e.g., way of dressing, language and the cultivation of land). Therefore they have a strong and deep connection with their ancestral territories, cultures and identities.


What is the United Nations?

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries, with headquarters in New York in the United States of America. Today this number has increased to 193 countries. The UN is a platform for countries to discuss and take decisions on a number of important issues. It plays a key role in keeping peace throughout the world and helping governments work together to improve the lives of people who live in their countries. Countries that form part of the UN are called ‘Member States’ and take decisions through the United Nations General Assembly, which is very similar to a world parliament. Sometimes these decisions are documented as declarations. 

The Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. It also "emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations".It "prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples", and it "promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development".The goal of the Declaration is to encourage countries to work alongside indigenous peoples to solve global issues, like development, multicultural democracy and decentralization.According to Article 31, there is a major emphasis that the indigenous peoples will be able to protect their cultural heritage and other aspects of their culture and tradition, which is extremely important in preserving their heritage. The elaboration of this Declaration had already been recommended by the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action.


bottom of page