TODAY -

Indigenous people building alliances
Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements

Ranjan K Baruah *

Meitei : Ethnic Doll at Konthoujam Maikel Meetei's Solo Exhibition at Nupilal complex, Imphal in July 2013
Meitei : Ethnic Doll at Konthoujam Maikel Meetei's Solo Exhibition at Nupilal complex, Imphal in July 2013 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam



We use the word indigenous in many occasions. The word 'indigenous' has many meanings. In every region of the world, many different cultural groups live together and interact, but not all of these groups are considered indigenous or inherent to their particular geographic area. In fact, it is only in the face of a collective or shared sense of identity that the term indigenous peoples have been internationally recognized.

Indigenous peoples are peoples defined in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations that are often politically dominant. [1] The concept of indigenous peoples defines these groups as particularly vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization and oppression by nation states that may still be formed from the colonising populations, or by politically dominant ethnic groups. As a result, a special set of political rights in accordance with international law have been set forth by international organizations such as the United Nations.

It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific, they are the descendants - according to a common definition - of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived. The new arrivals later became dominant through conquest, occupation, settlement or other means.

For the rights of the indigenous people 9th August is observed as day for indigenous people . The period 2005 - 2014 is being observed by the United Nations as the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. The observance of this Day and Decade by the UN (and, as a consequence, by a significant number of governments and peoples organisations around the world) is a sign of growing concern for the rights and welfare of indigenous communities. In May 2002 a new United Nations body, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, met for the first time. The Forum gives indigenous a voice in the global community.

The 19th commemoration of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples will be held on Friday, 9 August 2013. 2013 Theme: "Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements". The theme aims to highlight the importance of honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, between States, its citizens and indigenous peoples.

Both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples have a pivotal role in making treaties "living documents" in their own communities, by establishing new ways to live together, respecting one another and cooperating in the pursuit of common goals. This contributes to building societies that guarantee the security of their communities, while preserving the environment in recognition of the unique spiritual, cultural and historic relationship between indigenous peoples and their lands and natural resources.

"We must ensure the participation of indigenous peoples women and men in decision-making at all levels. This includes discussions on accelerating action towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and defining the post-2015 development agenda. ", stated Ban Ki-moon , Secretary General of UN.

The International Day of the World's Indigenous People (9 August) was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994, to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995 2004). In 2004, the Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade, from 2005 2014, with the theme of "A Decade for Action and Dignity."

As the theme suggests we need to respect the people and treaties related to indigenous people. It depends upon various governments how they look into the issue of rights related to indigenous people. At the same time civil society, media and other individual must stand for the rights of the indigenous people living in different parts of the world.


* Ranjan K Baruah wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on August 11, 2013.



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