[JURIST] The UN observed its fourteenth International Day of the World’s Indigenous People [official website] Saturday, marking the first observance since the September 2007 adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [text, PDF; FAQ, PDF]. In 1994, the General Assembly declared [A/RES/49/214 text, PDF] that the day would be observed every August 9 in an effort to "promote the enjoyment of the rights of indigenous people and the full development of their distinct cultures and communities." The Assembly reaffirmed that declaration [A/RES/59/174 text, PDF; official website] in 2004. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said [statement] of the UN's continued observance of the day in 2008:
The fundamental motivation was the Assembly’s recognition of the need to place the United Nations clearly and strongly behind the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, in order to put an end to their marginalization, their extreme poverty, the expropriation of their traditional lands and the other grave human rights abuses they have faced and continue to encounter. Indeed, the suffering of indigenous peoples includes some of the darkest episodes in human history.
The UN's official celebration [program and materials] of the day included statements by UN officials, a cultural performance and a panel discussion on Conciliation and Reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and States. The UN News Centre has more.
The Declaration adopted [press release; JURIST report] by the General Assembly in 2007 is a non-binding treaty outlining the global human rights [JURIST news archive] of about 370 million indigenous people and banning discrimination against them. 143 member states voted to adopt the treaty and 11 abstained. Four member states – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States – voted against adopting the treaty, citing concerns that its text conflicted with their countries' own laws, among other contentions.