9 August: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is globally observed every 9 August with aim to promote and protect rights of indigenous population. Observance of this day seeks to recognize the contributions and achievements of indigenous people to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

2019 Theme: ‘Indigenous Languages’. It is dedicated to languages of indigenous peoples’ in view of 2019 being marked as International Year of Indigenous Languages by United Nations (UN). It seeks to draw attention to critical loss of indigenous languages and urgent need to preserve, promote and revitalize them at both national and international levels.

Why it is important of preserve Indigenous Languages?

The large majority of languages spoken by indigenous peoples are in danger. It is estimated that, every 2 weeks, one indigenous language disappears, placing at risk respective indigenous cultures and knowledge systems.  In response to threats to various indigenous languages, UN General Assembly (UNGA) had adopted Resolution (A/RES/71/178) on ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, proclaiming 2019 as International Year of Indigenous Languages.


International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was pronounced by UNGA by adopting resolution 49/214 in December 1994.

Why August 9? This date marks the day on which 1st meeting of UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights was held in 1982.

Indigenous people: It is estimated that there around 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5% of the world’s population, but account for 15% of the poorest, making them most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in world.. They speak overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures. These people are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained their unique social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of dominant societies in which they live. Indigenous peoples from around the world, despite having cultural differences, are facing common problems related to protection of their rights as distinct peoples and existence.


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