Brussels, 9 August 2010
Declaration by the High Representative Catherine Ashton on behalf of the European Union on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
Today, on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, I want to send a message of support to indigenous peoples around the world on behalf of the European Union. On this day, we celebrate indigenous peoples, and pay tribute to the enormous contribution their traditions and knowledge have made to the world's cultural heritage and to the sustainable development of our planet.
We are now in the middle of the second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (2005 - 2015). We therefore reflect on what has been done protect the rights of indigenous peoples, as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and guarantee them equal treatment, and how much more remains to be done.
On the side of achievements, the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, which was supported by the European Union, stands above the rest. The Declaration would not have been achieved without the tireless advocacy of indigenous peoples’ representatives. The Declaration advanced the rights and ensured the continued development of indigenous peoples around the world. Its message is a simple, but powerful one: equality for all.
The principles are therefore right; the challenge remains in putting them to practice. Regrettably, discrimination against and unequal treatment of indigenous peoples continues around the world.
The International Day provides an opportunity for European Union to renew its commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On behalf of the European Union, I pledge to strive to put an end to discrimination and unequal treatment - not only in principle, but most importantly in practice.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and Iceland+, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.