On 9 August every year, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed to raise awareness and to defend the rights of indigenous people around the world. This event also honors the accomplishments and sacrifices made by indigenous people to solve world issues such as the conservation of the environment.
The International Day of the Indigenous Peoples was declared for the first time in December 1994 by the General Assembly of the United Nations which was held each year during the first International Decade of the Indigenous Peoples of the World (1995-2004). In 2004, the Assembly proclaimed, from 2005 to 2015, a Second International Decade under the theme of ‘Decade for Action and Dignity.’
Theme of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2021
This year the theme of International Day of Worlds Indigenous Peoples 2021 is- Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.”
The right of indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making is essential for achieving reconciliation between indigenous peoples and governments. As a result, a new social compact must address indigenous peoples’ heritage of exclusion and marginalization by ensuring their meaningful and effective participation and obtaining their free, prior, and informed consent. As a result, it will lead to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda’s goals.
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples commemoration in 2021 will include an interactive discussion with two speakers on the distinct elements to be considered when building and redesigning a new social contract that is inclusive of indigenous peoples – where indigenous peoples’ own forms of governance and ways of life must be respected and based on their free, prior, and informed consent.
Indigenous peoples are still facing a number of challenges and the new unfortunate reality is that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are only fuelling such challenges.
The indigenous people still have inadequate access to health care, considerably increased disease levels, lack of access to basic facilities, sanitation and other primary preventive steps, such as clean water , soap, disinfectant and so forth. Likewise, most local medical facilities are still under-equipped and under-employed. Even if indigenous people can access health care, they can face prejudice and stigma. A crucial element is the provision, as relevant to the particular circumstance of indigenous peoples, of services and facilities in indigenous languages.
Plans to rebuild better and rethink social contracts for the many indigenous peoples disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 around the world must include listening to their voices, needs, and concerns, obtaining their free, prior, and informed consent, and including the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Due to lockdowns in various countries without a plan in sight, indigenous people who already face food shortages are facing severe challenges because they have lost their traditional lands and territories. The loss of their traditional livelihoods, often terrestrial, will negatively affect many indigenous peoples working in traditional occupations and subsistence economies or the informal sector.
According to the International Labor Organization, there are some 476,6 million indigenous people in 90 countries worldwide, belonging to 5,000 ethnic communities.
In order to raise awareness of the needs of indigenous people, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is celebrated every 9 August. They need us particularly now. We need the traditional wisdom, voices and awareness of the indigenous peoples particularly now.