International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2023


In order to raise awareness of the needs of the Indigenous people, every 9th August the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is celebrated. This day was chosen in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva in 1982.

On 23 December 1994, through the resolution 49/214 the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year in order to raise awareness of the needs of indigenous peoples. This year’s theme is “Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination”.

The United Nations have been committed to protecting the rights of indigenous peoples for many years through different instruments such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which promotes and protects the rights of indigenous peoples in international law and policy. Moreover, many of the United Nations Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals address the concerns of indigenous peoples who are still left behind on most social, economic and political aspects. Their cultures continue to be threatened, and the protection and promotion of their rights are not guaranteed. Conflicts and human rights violations, likewise, caused their displacement and dispossession[1].


The COVID-19 pandemic, has stalled the rights of indigenous peoples particularly, their rights to pursue development based on self-determination. A fact underscored during the Panel discussion on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples held on 23rd March 2023 during the Human Rights Council (HRC) 52nd  Session.[2]


In addition more than 86% of indigenous peoples in the world work in the informal economy, compared to 66% for their non-indigenous counterparts. Indigenous peoples are nearly three times as likely to be living in extreme poverty compared to their non-indigenous counterparts. The 47% of all indigenous peoples in employment have no education, compared to 17% of their non-indigenous counterparts and this gap is even bigger for women.[3]


It’s high time we give indigenous youth their rightful voice and place in society. Given proper education, new skills and technological training, indigenous youth can offer solutions and contribute to building a more sustainable, peaceful indigenous communities and help create a better world for they are “inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment”. In fact, “their representation and participation in global efforts towards climate change mitigation, peace-building, and digital cooperation are crucial for the effective implementation of their rights as indigenous[4]”.


IIMA Human Rights Office, together with VIDES International, is strongly committed to promote the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially of their youth.

With this goal in mind, during the 53rd Session of the HRC Universal periodic Review (UPR) adoption on Argentina, IIMA and VIDES recommended to the government of Argentina to “adapt a national, provincial and municipal legislation that guarantees the participation of indigenous people in decision making processes in all matters concerning their rights”. This is true for all indigenous peoples, especially for its youth. In reality, “Indigenous Peoples who enjoyed their right to self-determination and had led recovery initiatives had proven to have better tools to face the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic” [as well as other challenges].”. This underlines the need to develop more and more the personality and capacity of indigenous people, particularly their youth, who can be initiators of change among their own peoples and in society at large.

The joint statement of the Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development on the “Doctrine of Discovery”, on 30 March 2023, paragraph 9, affirms that “More recently, the Church’s solidarity with indigenous peoples has given rise to the Holy See’s strong support for the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The implementation of those principles would improve the living conditions and help protect the rights of indigenous peoples as well as facilitate their development in a way that respects their identity, language and culture.” This is their very gift to humanity.













[4] Ibid.