European Union External Action

Among the poorest in the world and richest culturally – EU protects rights of Indigenous Peoples

09/08/2018 - 11:15

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people worldwide, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world's population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. Nevertheless, indigenous peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures and indeed to our common heritage. The EU, together with the rest of the world, celebrates this contribution on International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples

On this occasion, the High Representative, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the European Union, states that "it is also a day where we take stock of the many achievements in the recognition and realisation of their rights and identify the actions that the world community still needs to take, so that human rights are universally applied without any discrimination."

The European Union has been actively supporting indigenous peoples since the late 1990s and has committed itself to maintain indigenous peoples as a focus of attention given their disadvantage in all societies. This is manifest in two programmes entitled “Global public goods and challenges” (GPGC) and “Support for civil society organisations and local authorities” prioritising the fight against poverty and supporting inclusive growth.

Increasingly hostility, violence and reprisals are used against indigenous rights’ and environmental defenders, including against the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. "We are alarmed that globally the number of murders of such defenders is estimated at four per week. The authorities in countries where such acts take place are expected to intensify their work to protect activists and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice", says the EU.

Every single day somewhere in the world indigenous peoples are being dispossessed of their ancestral lands, territories and resources. As a result of these losses, many indigenous peoples migrate to urban areas in search of better prospects of life, education and employment. They also migrate between countries to escape conflict, persecution and climate change impacts.

For this reason the United Nations selected "Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement" as the theme for this year's 'International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples'. It focuses on the current situation of indigenous territories, the root causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement, with a specific focus on indigenous peoples living in urban areas and across international borders. The EU stresses that the rise in the frequency of land grabbing needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and thus supports land governance programmes and projects in 40 countries around the world with a total budget of €240 million. In Colombia alone the efforts lead to the collective titling of 280.000 hectares benefitting indigenous communities. This year the EU will give €6.9 million to the Land and Forest Tenure Facility, which focuses specifically on the tenure rights and security of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

A further €5 million by the EU will be dedicated to Human Rights Defenders and organisations who work on land grabbing, climate change and on indigenous peoples’ rights.

"We will continue to stand up for indigenous peoples and support them to ensure they can retain their cultures, identities and way of life, that are part of our common culture, identity, way of life," Mogherini concluded on behalf of the EU.


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