6 August 2010


There are over 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries, living in all regions of the world. The situation of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world is critical today. Poverty rates are significantly higher among indigenous peoples compared to other groups. While they constitute 5 per cent of the world's population, they are 15 per cent of the world's poor.

Each year on Aug 9th the international community marks International Day of Worlds Indigenous Peoples

The Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of indigenous peoples' cultures and the great diversity that they represent. It is also an occasion to redouble efforts to address issues of exclusion, discrimination and poverty that are still the daily reality for many of these peoples.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues reports regularly on the State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples drawing attention to the discrimination and exclusion they frequently experience.

The disadvantage suffered by indigenous people was highlighted in the recent statement by James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous people, following his visit to New Zealand. The Special Rapporteur made reference to "troubling" inequalities persisting between Maori and non-Maori, and urged New Zealand to press ahead with efforts to improve the human rights of its indigenous people.

While acknowledging that the country has made efforts to address ongoing challenges on the issue, and had reversed its initial opposition to the endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People he went on to say "I cannot help but note the extreme disadvantage in the social and economic conditions of Maori people, which are dramatically manifested in the continued and persistent high levels of incarceration of Maori individuals"

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