Indigenous Communities Need Greater Protection, Says UN

By Natalie Gee
Natalie Gee
Natalie Gee
August 10, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Bangladeshi tribal woman wearing traditional clothing dance at a rally held to mark International Indigenous Day in Dhaka on August 9. August 9 marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations.  (Strdel/Getty Iamges )
Bangladeshi tribal woman wearing traditional clothing dance at a rally held to mark International Indigenous Day in Dhaka on August 9. August 9 marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations. (Strdel/Getty Iamges )
Indigenous communities continue to suffer discrimination and poverty, the United Nations said on International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said in a statement, “Indigenous peoples still experience racism, poor health, and disproportionate poverty.”

According to Ban, the 2007 Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, designed to protect their language, religion, and traditions, has not reached satisfactory results yet.

“Indigenous peoples have preserved a vast amount of humanity’s cultural history … and have inherited and passed on a wealth of knowledge, traditions, and artistic forms,” Ban said.

According to statistics published in a U.N. report on the state world’s indigenous people, in some countries indigenous people are 600 times more at risk of contracting tuberculosis than the average population. In some countries, indigenous children are expected to live 20 years less than the average.

“Indigenous peoples continue to see their traditional lands invaded by powerful actors seeking wealth at their expense, thereby depriving them of life-sustaining resources,” said James Anaya, the special rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, in a press release.

Ban called on governments and civil society to reinvigorate their commitment to indigenous peoples and to raise their status in our modern society.

A special focus of this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, was the films made by indigenous filmmakers. In a ceremony held at the U.N. headquarters in New York, indigenous filmmakers were praised for enriching the world's understanding of their plight.

Natalie Gee