Photo Courtesy of UN Photo
Throughout the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the global community has come together on August 9 each year to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples; a day specifically designed to raise awareness about the challenges facing indigenous peoples and ensure that their voice are heard.
This year, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples theme is “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices.”
“From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions.”
The day was observed at UN headquarters with a special event highlighting some of the homegrown indigenous media outlets that stand up against the stereotypes and falsehoods often promulgated about indigenous peoples in traditional media. The event also included a panel discussion featuring experts on indigenous media issues, who shared their experiences about the power of media to transform people’s preconceptions about indigenous peoples.
Secretary-General Ban also used the day as an opportunity to reiterate his support for the Decelaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which, after being passed in 2007, called upon all UN member states to cease human rights violations against the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples, and supports their right to self-determination.
“The Declaration is a visionary step towards addressing the human rights of indigenous peoples,” the SG announced. “I encourage Member States and indigenous peoples to come together in a spirit of mutual respect, and make use of the Declaration as the living document it is so that it has a real and positive effect throughout the world.”
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, concurred with Mr. Ban’s statement.
“After the adoption of the Declaration, its implementation is the ultimate test of the political will of the duty-bearers, the Governments, the UN System and other intergovernmental bodies” she said in a statement released on Thursday.
With a global population higher than that of the United States of America, indigenous peoples remain a large and important element in the global community, and one that has historical suffered enormous hardships. Efforts like the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Day of Indigenous Peoples show that the international community remains committed to these people, and devoted to helping them overcome their challenges.