The day is celebrated each year to recognize the first UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations meeting in Geneva in 1982. This year the day is devoted to the right to education.
On behalf of the European Union, High Representative Federica Mogherini issued a statement in support of the rights of indigenous peoples and recognized their unique contributions to the world’s cultural diversity.
However, despite the many positive developments in recognising the rights of indigenous peoples, there are persistent human rights violations, including killings and abuses against indigenous Human Rights Defenders in a range of countries.
“The EU is therefore stepping up its efforts to protect Human Rights Defenders working on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalized, including indigenous peoples, and those campaigning on land rights issues,” says Federica Mogherini, the foreign policy chief of EU.
The EU is also stepping up its engagement with indigenous peoples, in line with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy. “Before the end of the year the EU intends to prepare an overview of its policies and actions supporting indigenous peoples as well as a list of best practices.”
The statement also mentions that the promotion of cultural rights in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is at the heart of peace-building through inter-cultural dialogue, as set out in the new European Union Strategy on international cultural relations.
In June of this year, the Organisation of the American States adopted the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration is the first instrument of its kind which specifically addresses the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
The Declaration will add a new dimension to the EU’s relations with its partner countries in the Americas, according to Mogherini.
The Brussels Times (Source: European External Action Service)