State of the World's Indigenous Peoples
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State of the World's Indigenous Peoples

While indigenous peoples make up around 370 million of the world’s population – some 5 per cent – they constitute around one-third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people. Every day, indigenous communities all over the world face issues of violence and brutality. Indigenous peoples are stewards of some of the most biologically diverse areas of the globe, and their biological and cultural wealth has allowed indigenous peoples to gather a wealth of traditional knowledge which is of immense value to all humankind. The publication discusses many of the issues addressed by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is a cooperative effort of independent experts working with the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It covers poverty and well-being, culture, environment, contemporary education, health, human rights, and includes a chapter on emerging issues.

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Author(s):
Dalee Sambo Dorough

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Early conceptions of natural rights, and later human rights, in some ways share certain parallels or philosophical strains with the general practices, customs and values of indigenous societies: the social contract, the common good, the general will, equality and so forth. There are a number of notable distinctions or additional elements, however. For example, indigenous concepts are not confined to human beings but include all living things, underscoring an essential, unique element of the relationship of indigenous peoples to nature and their natural world that has permeated indigenous identity and is at the core of their world views and perspectives. The collective rather than individualistic nature of indigenous societies is another important attribute that has surfaced repeatedly in all international and regional human rights standard setting discussions. The narrow view of rights attaching only to individuals is regarded as wholly insufficient for the distinct cultural context of indigenous peoples. The collective dimension of indigenous societies cannot therefore be underestimated in the development and implementation of human rights standards concerning indigenous peoples.