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United Nations: Initiative on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

(May 26, 2011) On May 20, 2011, the United Nations began the U.N. Indigenous Peoples' Partnership (UNIPP), an effort to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The project was launched in conjunction with the 10th session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, being held in New York. The UNIPP will work to strengthen the institutions of indigenous groups and make it possible for these peoples to take part in governance and policy-making locally and nationally. Another goal is to prevent conflict regarding land rights and the use of natural resources in lands traditionally held by indigenous peoples. (UN Launches New Initiative to Promote Rights of World's Indigenous Peoples, UN NEWS CENTRE (May 20 2011).)

The UNIPP was developed by four institutions, the U.N. International Labour Organization, the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the U.N. Children's Fund. (Id.) It is designed to implement provisions of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the General Assembly as Resolution 61/295 of September 13, 2007 (text on U.N. website (last visited May 23, 2011).)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said of the UNIPP that all nations should support its work “so that it can fulfil its potential to turn the declaration's principles into reality.” He went on to say:

indigenous people suffered centuries of oppression, and continue to lose their lands, their languages and their resources at an alarming rate. Despite these obstacles, indigenous people make an enormous contribution to our world, including through their spiritual relationship with the Earth. By helping indigenous peoples regain their rights, we will also protect our shared environment for the benefit of all. (UN NEWS CENTRE, supra.)

The United Nations estimates there are 370 million indigenous people, spread across 90 countries, largely living in extreme poverty and with low rates of participation in education for their children. (Id.)