The Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2015) was proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 59/174 and the Programme of Action was adopted by General Assembly resolution 60/142 and is contained in document A/60/270. The goal of the Decade is the further strengthening of international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment and social and economic development, by means of action oriented programmes and specific projects, increased technical assistance and relevant standard setting activities. The second decade concluded in December 2015.

The five objectives of the Decade were:

  1. Promoting non-discrimination and inclusion of indigenous peoples in the design, implementation and evaluation of international, regional and national processes regarding laws, policies, resources, programmes and projects;
  2. Promoting full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in decisions which directly or indirectly affect their life styles, traditional lands and territories, their cultural integrity as indigenous peoples with collective rights or any other aspect of their lives, considering the principle of free, prior and informed consent.
  3. Re-defining development policies that depart from a vision of equity and that are culturally appropriate, including respect for cultural and linguistic diversity of indigenous peoples.
  4. Adopting targeted policies, programmes, projects and budgets for the development of indigenous peoples, including concrete benchmarks, and particular emphasis on indigenous women, children and youth;
  5. Developing strong monitoring mechanisms and enhancing accountability at the international, regional and particularly the national level, regarding the implementation of legal, policy and operational frameworks for the protection of indigenous peoples and the improvement of their lives.

Trust Fund for the Second Decade
The Trust Fund for the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was established to promote, support and implement the objectives of the Decade. The Fund gave priority to projects concerning the main areas of the Second Decade: culture, education, health, human rights, the environment and social and economic development. The Advisory Group for the small grants programme of the Fund in May 2011, recommended the preparation of an Evaluation of the small grants programme on the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People under the Trust Fund on Indigenous Issues (E/C.19/2013/21)

The Fund was mainly used for providing small grants to projects that indigenous organizations or organizations working for indigenous peoples applied for funding with a budget for up to US$ 10,000 covering one year’s expenses.

From 2006 to 2014, the Trust Fund awarded grants to a total of 151 projects with a predominance of projects in Asia, Africa and Central and East Europe and Caucasus. Due to limited resources, the Trust Fund had, however, only been able to grant funds to 151 out of a total of 4110 project proposals submitted .

The projects funded have mostly covered the area of human rights (38%) and social and economic development (23%), with 32% focusing specifically on women and 31% on youth – a continually increasing trend. Also, of the funded projects, 57% provided an important opportunity for indigenous peoples to engage directly in dialogue with States.

The projects have mainly been implemented with a local focus (76%), with a majority in the rural areas (66%).

To see the list of projects selected for funding click here

Final Report of the Second Decade

The final report on the achievement of the goal and objectives of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People follows a midterm assessment in 2010 and an assessment in 2012. It provides examples of current efforts to achieve the objectives of the Programme of Action for the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. One of the major highlights of the Second Decade was the adoption, in 2007, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The report also provides an analysis of the impact of the Second Decade on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. While there has been some progress in achieving the goals of the Second Decade, a substantial gap remains between the formal recognition of indigenous peoples and the implementation of policies on the ground. The post-2015 development agenda and the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, afford an opportunity to make indigenous peoples part of the solution and to build a life of dignity, equity and hope for all.

Indigenous peoples have also participated in major world conferences, such as the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit), held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, and the 1996 Social Summit. Indigenous peoples also were prominent in the 2001 World Conference against Racism, which was held in Durban, South Africa.

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) was established by the UN Human Rights Council, in 2007 under Resolution 6/36 as a subsidiary body of the Council. The Expert Mechanism provides the Human Rights Council with thematic advice, in the form of studies and research, on the rights of indigenous peoples as directed by the Council. The Expert Mechanism may also suggest proposals to the Council for its consideration and approval.

The Expert Mechanism is made up of five independent experts on the rights of indigenous peoples which are appointed by the Human Rights Council. The Expert Mechanism holds an annual session, usually in July, in which representatives from States, indigenous peoples, indigenous peoples’ organisations, civil society, inter-governmental organisations and academia take part. The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and a member of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues are invited to attend the annual session of the Expert Mechanism to enhance coordination and cooperation between these indigenous mechanisms.

Funding for representatives of indigenous communities and organisations to attend the Expert Mechanism can be sought from the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday September 13, 2007. The Declaration is the most comprehensive statement of the rights of indigenous peoples ever developed, giving prominence to collective rights to a degree unprecedented in international human rights law. The adoption of this instrument is the clearest indication yet that the international community is committing itself to the protection of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples.

The Declaration is a culmination of over twenty years of work, that began in earnest at the Working Group which began the drafting of the declaration in 1985. The first draft was completed in 1993, and in 1995, the Commission on Human Rights set up its own working group to review the draft adopted by the human rights experts of the Working Group and the Sub-Commission. More than 100 indigenous organizations participated in the Working Group of the Commission annually.

In addition to participating in large numbers in the Working Group on Indigenous Populations and other meetings, indigenous people are also becoming more prominent as individual players on the world stage.