NEW YORK, 8 August 2008 – The contribution and role of the World's Indigenous people has been celebrated and acknowledged by UNICEF today, on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Over 20 years after negotiations first began, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was finally adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007 making this year's Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples particularly significant.
The Declaration, approved by most member states of the United Nations, sets minimum standards for the well-being and dignity of the world’s estimated 350 million indigenous people representing roughly 5,000 indigenous groups in over 70 countries.
When the Declaration was adopted, UNICEF’s Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman noted that “to become a reality, the Declaration must be accompanied by a strong political will and public policies and budget allocations must reach Indigenous peoples, so that Indigenous children can overcome poverty, discrimination, and exclusion, which affect the overwhelming majority”.
UNICEF is committed to promoting the rights of indigenous peoples and working with them for the full development of their distinct culture and communities. UNICEF calls for Governments to eliminate disparities as they strive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.