The Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) commemorates August 9 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations General Assembly established this global observance in 1994 by adopting Resolution 49/214. The commemorative date marks the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, which took place in 1982.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted on September 13, 2007, is regarded by the United Nations as the “most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples.” The Declaration enumerates, among other things, the rights of indigenous peoples to all human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the ability to maintain and strengthen their distinct institutions while fully participating in the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the State. The text available here builds on established international human rights standards and other fundamental freedoms within the context of indigenous issues.
This year’s observance focuses on “Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination, ” highlighting their role in practicing self-determination within the framework of climate action and the green transition, rallying for justice, and nurturing intergenerational connections. Indigenous youth play a crucial role in tackling pressing global challenges and instigating change. Their participation in climate action, peacebuilding, and digital cooperation is pivotal for implementing Indigenous Peoples' self-determination and human rights. Promoting inclusive youth engagement for transformative decisions is essential in these realms, ensuring a more promising future for everyone.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres explained:
Across the world, Indigenous Peoples face serious challenges, with their lands and resources threatened, their rights undermined, and their persistent vulnerability to marginalization and exclusion. Young Indigenous Peoples are helping to fight back.
They are leaders in the global climate action movement. They advocate justice and equality, celebrate their cultures, advance human rights and raise awareness of Indigenous history and issues around the world. And, learning from their elders, they ensure the continuity of Indigenous cultures, wisdom, and identities far into the future.
Indigenous knowledge and traditions are deeply rooted in sustainable development and can help to solve many of our common challenges. It is therefore vital that young Indigenous Peoples, both women and men, are involved in decision-making. The choices made today will determine the world of tomorrow.
On the occasion of the 2023 International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, the Auschwitz Institute stands with indigenous populations around the world to safeguard and acknowledge the role of indigenous youth in fostering an equitable society. Using their voices, Indigenous young people are sharing their experiences and creating a sense of unity among other young people. In doing so, they are also increasing awareness of the challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples, both within their communities and on a global scale.
The Auschwitz Institute also continues its partnership with the Lenape Center and honors the rich cultural practices of the Lenape and their deep connection with Lenapehoking — the homeland of the Lenape people. As such, members of AIPG’s New York Office staff acknowledge their status as guests on Manahahtaan — as it is called in the Munsee dialect of Lenape.