Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, establishing a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples, and elaborating on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples. The declaration called on UN entities and international organizations to contribute to the realization of these human rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has further brought attention to discrimination against indigenous peoples, in particular for indigenous women and girls, and the disproportionate impacts they face, presenting a new threat to their health, survival and human rights. The UN has benefitted from the knowledge of indigenous peoples on a wide variety of issues. As custodians of lands and traditional practices that can help humanity live more sustainably with the environment, indigenous peoples are indispensable partners in achieving the SDGs and the long-term COVID-19 recovery process, including through their contributions to the protection of biodiversity and the fight against climate change. 

As requested by the General Assembly in the outcome document of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, in 2015 the Inter-Agency Support Group (IASG) on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues developed the UN system-wide action plan for ensuring a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (SWAP-Indigenous Peoples) to ensure a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the Declaration and provide a framework to measure the support and progress of the UN system’s work to advance the rights and well-being of the world’s indigenous peoples.

In November 2015, the SWAP-Indigenous Peoples was brought to CEB’s attention as an important tool at the disposal of the UN system and members were encouraged to support its implementation in their respective organizations.  At HLCP’s 38th session in October 2019, IASG’s work on indigenous peoples’ issues was showcased as an opportunity to overcome silos, fill in data gaps and leverage existing coordination frameworks. Yet the implementation of the SWAP-Indigenous Peoples has been uneven.

In November 2020, the fifth anniversary of the SWAP-Indigenous Peoples, CEB took the opportunity to revitalize the action plan and strengthen collective and coherent UN system efforts by endorsing a call to action (available in English and Spanish) on building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future with indigenous peoples. The call to action affirms the Executive Heads’ commitment to supporting Member States in the promotion, protection and realization of the rights of indigenous peoples and redoubling efforts to ensure collaborative and coherent United Nations system action to support the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples. It aims to:

  • ensure more systematic participation of indigenous peoples in United Nations processes and initiatives that affect them;
  • strengthen targeted actions at the country level to support the rights of indigenous peoples and learning from good practices;
  • ensure greater accountability and visibility for the action plan; and
  • strengthen the disaggregation of data on indigenous peoples to ensure greater visibility of indigenous peoples and their situation.

The call to action was developed through the IASG, discussed and approved by the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) at its 40th session in October 2020, and subsequently endorsed by CEB at its second regular session of 2020.

  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Chief Executives Board (CEB)
  • High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP)

Documents

  • Building an Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Future with Indigenous Peoples: A Call to Action

    PDF | 2.2 MB

  • Construyendo un futuro inclusivo, sostenible y resiliente con los pueblos indígenas: Un llamamiento a la acción

    PDF | 2.29 MB

Related resources

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  • Chief Executives Board (CEB)

    2020 Annual Overview Report

  • Chief Executives Board (CEB) High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP)

    Building an Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Future with Indigenous Peoples: A Call to Action