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Global governance

We support indigenous peoples in accessing and benefiting from local and regional human rights mechanisms as well as the UN system and its global agendas.

A UN Permanent Forum is dedicated to indigenous peoples’ agendas; a UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted in 2007, and a Special Rapporteur is watching the realisation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Much has been achieved by indigenous peoples since they started advocating for their right to participate in international decision-making processes. Indigenous peoples have succeeded in adopting an international legal framework, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Institutional mechanisms and procedures mandated to promote and protect indigenous peoples’ rights have been established, such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur.

At the international level, indigenous peoples have crawled up the latter in the UN system: It started with the establishment of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1984 at the lowest level of the UN system, and now indigenous peoples are on the verge of getting a special status at the highest level of the UN.

At the local and regional level, indigenous peoples have organised themselves and have also gained influence and spaces within the regional human rights mechanisms as the Inter-American Human Rights System and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Indigenous peoples are still being left behind

On the local level, the rights of indigenous peoples are still not fully realised. The situation of indigenous peoples remains alarming in many countries: From land rights to women’ rights, indigenous peoples are highly challenged on the ground.

Every year, reports written by IWGIA show that the human rights of indigenous peoples are being violated and that indigenous rights defenders are increasingly threatened and many continue to be arrested or even murdered.

The Sustainable Development Goals work for indigenous peoples

For indigenous peoples, the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development provides an opportunity to access all of their rights. The targets include six explicit references to indigenous peoples.

The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development is grounded on the principles of human rights, human dignity, non-discrimination, equality and participation that are essential for indigenous peoples’ access to all of their rights. This includes the 2030 Agenda’s overarching aim of “leaving no one behind”.

The inclusion of indigenous peoples in the review process and realisation of the SDGs is necessary to prevent indigenous peoples from being left behind.

IWGIA supports the interlink between the local and the global

The linking of international commitments and national laws and is one of the biggest challenges for indigenous peoples.

Therefore IWGIA is enhancing the bridging of the existing gap by supporting the initiatives of indigenous peoples’ organisations to empower them to flag their cases in relevant international forums. They bring documentation, cases and updates from the ground to encourage change at the local level.

The aim is to link decisions and policies adopted at the global level with the development of laws and policies at the local and regional level. 

Collecting data on indigenous peoples' rights and the SDGs

With support from the EU, the online platform called the Indigenous Navigator have been developed for collecting community-generated data and information that visualises and identifies existing gaps in the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights.

Indigenous Navigator provides tools to analyze and document indigenous peoples’ human rights and development, and uncover the important links between the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the commitments put forward in the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, and in the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

Through the indigenous Navigator questionnaires, communities can generate their own data and make them available on an online data portal. This will allow other actors to access in-depth information about indigenous peoples’ situation.

The Indigenous Navigator is aimed at raising indigenous peoples’ awareness of their rights through systematic data generation, and empowering them to claim their rights by using their data in dialogue with policy-makers and development stakeholders at the local, national and global levels.

The Indigenous Navigator is a collaborative initiative developed by Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP), Forest Peoples’ Programme (FPP), International Labour Organization (ILO), Tebtebba Foundation, Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) with support from the European Union (EU). You can explore the tools here: www.indigenousnavigator.org

Indigenous Women participate in a community meeting

CEDAW adopts pioneer binding instrument on the rights of Indigenous women and girls

At its 82nd session on 26 October, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted general recommendation No. 39 on the rights of Indigenous women and girls. This is the first time CEDAW calls on State parties to pay more attention to issues affecting Indigenous women and girls specifically and to take measures to comply with their obligations under CEDAW. The adoption of the recommendation is the result of a concerted effort by Indigenous women's organisations around the world and their supporters, including IWGIA. 

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Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for his report to the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly:

Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Jointly submitted by:

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on World Heritage (IIPFWH), Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC)

30 March 2022

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Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Drafting of the General Recommendation on the Rights of Indigenous Women and Girls

With this written submission, the International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) seeks to bring forward the voices, perspectives and experiences of indigenous women and girls, particularly from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Arctic, and to include them in the development of CEDAW’s general recommendation on the rights of Indigenous women and girls.

The methodology used to collect the data contained in this written submission has been centered on indigenous women’s voices, and is extracted from interviews with Indigenous Women leaders from partner organizations, the data available through the Indigenous Navigator, NGO reports that gathered Indigenous Women and Girls’ testimony, and international organizations reports. It should be noted, however, that the short deadline provided to file these submissions hampered the ability of NGOs such as IWGIA to fully guarantee the inclusive participation of Indigenous Women and Girls in this process.

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45th Session of the Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council is the main intergovernmental body within the United Nations system responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. It therefore plays a pivotal role in the promotion and the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights.  Most of the gains achieved by Indigenous Peoples in advancing the recognition of their rights at the international level have been led by the Human Rights Council (or by its predecessor the Commission on Human Rights).

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
E-mail: iwgia@iwgia.org
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