Marking the day of the first meeting in 1982, of the UN working group on indigenous people, August 9th is observed as the International Day of the world’s Indigenous people. Indigenous people, also known as the native people, are ethnic groups who maintain traditions or other aspects of an early culture that is associated with a given region.
They live in almost all the regions of the world, numbering a total population of around 370-500 million and 6.2% of the global population. They are holders of a vast diversity of unique cultures, traditions, languages, and knowledge systems representing the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity.
The theme of this year, “Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract” has been promoted due to a variety of reasons. Many indigenous people suffer extreme poverty, illness, discrimination, and other human rights violations. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on these inequalities as well.
A social contract is an unwritten agreement that societies make to cooperate for social and economic benefits. In many countries, where indigenous people were driven from their lands, they were never included in the social contract to begin with. Even though international instruments such as the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous people exist, all these are not embarked upon.
To achieve a new contract, it must include the right for them to participate in decision making, listening to their voices, needs, and concerns, obtaining their free, prior, and informed consent before offering solutions for prevailing problems such as marginalization.
This year’s theme is to embark on a collective journey to ensure that no one is left behind, including indigenous people. Let’s ensure it acknowledges their significant role in sustaining the diversity of the world’s cultural and biological landscape.