On September 13, 2007 the UN General Assembly
adopted the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This followed more
than twenty years of discussions within the UN
system. Indigenous representatives played key roles
in the development of this Declaration.
There are over 370 million Indigenous people in
Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.
They are among the most impoverished,
marginalized and frequently victimized people in
This universal human rights instrument is celebrated
globally as a symbol of triumph and hope. Effective
implementation of the Declaration would result in
significant improvements in the global situation of
Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous
Issues, to the General Assembly on the Occasion
of the Adoption September 13, 2007:
Through the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations marks a historical milestone in its long history of developing and establishing international human rights standards.
It marks a major victory for Indigenous Peoples who actively took part in crafting this Declaration.This day will forever be etched in our history and memories as a significant gain in our long strugglefor our rights as distinct peoples and cultures. The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered asa day when the United Nations and its Member States, together with Indigenous Peoples, reconciled with past painful histories and decided to march into the future on the path of human rights. I thank very warmly all the States who voted for the adoption of the Declaration today. All of you will be remembered by us.
This Declaration has the distinction of being the only Declaration in the UN which was drafted with therights-holders, themselves, the Indigenous Peoples. We see this is as a strong Declaration which embodies the most important rights we and our ancestors have long fought for; our right of selfdetermination, our right to own and control our lands, territories and resources, our right to free, prior and informed consent, among others.
Each and every article of this Declaration is a response to the cries and complaints brought by indigenous peoples … This is a Declaration which makes the opening phrase of the UN Charter, “We the Peoples…” meaningful for the more than 370 million indigenous persons all over the world.
Effective implementation of the Declaration will be the test of commitment of States and the whole international community to protect, respect and fulfill indigenous peoples’ collective and individual human rights.
I call on governments, the UN system, Indigenous Peoples and civil society at large to rise to the historic task before us and make the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples a living document for the common future of humanity.