UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Adopted by General Assembly Resolution 61/295
September 13, 2007

The General Assembly,

Emphasizing that the United Nations has an important and  continuing role to play in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous  peoples,

Believing that this Declaration is a further important step  forward for the recognition, promotion and protection of the rights and  freedoms of indigenous peoples and in the development of relevant activities of  the United Nations system in this field,

Recognizing and reaffirming that indigenous individuals are  entitled without discrimination to all human rights recognized in international  law, and that indigenous peoples possess collective rights which are  indispensable for their existence, well-being and integral development as  peoples,

Recognizing that the situation of indigenous peoples varies  from region to region and from country to country and that the significance of  national and regional particularities and various historical and cultural  backgrounds should be taken into consideration,

Solemnly proclaims the following United Nations Declaration  on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a standard of achievement to be pursued  in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect:

Article 1
Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as  a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as  recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of  Human Rights(4) and international human rights law.

Article 2
Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all  other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of  discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on  their indigenous origin or identity.

Article 3
Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By  virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely  pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Article 4
Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to  self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters  relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for  financing their autonomous functions.

Article 5
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen  their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions,  while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the  political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.

Article 6
Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.

Article 7
1. Indigenous individuals have the rights to life,  physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person.
2. Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live  in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected  to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly  removing children of the group to another group.

Article 8
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right  not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for  prevention of, and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving  them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or  ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of  dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has  the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or  incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.

Article 9
Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong  to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and  customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may  arise from the exercise of such a right.

Article 10
Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their  lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior  and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on  just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.

Article 11
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and  revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to  maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of  their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts,  designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and  literature.
2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms,  which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous  peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual  property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation  of their laws, traditions and customs.

Article 12
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.
2. States shall seek to enable the access and/or  repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession  through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction  with indigenous peoples concerned.

Article 13
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize,  use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages,  oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to  designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that  this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can  understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative  proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by  other appropriate means.

Article 14
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and  control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their  own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching  and learning.
2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have  the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without  discrimination.
3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous  peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals,  particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to  have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided  in their own language.

Article 15
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and  diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall  be appropriately reflected in education and public information.
2. States shall take effective measures, in  consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to combat  prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding  and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society.

Article 16
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their  own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of  non-indigenous media without discrimination.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that  State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. States, without  prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately  owned media to adequately reflect indigenous cultural diversity.

Article 17
1. Indigenous individuals and peoples have the right to  enjoy fully all rights established under applicable international and domestic  labour law.
2. States shall in consultation and cooperation with  indigenous peoples take specific measures to protect indigenous children from  economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be  hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the  child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development,  taking into account their special vulnerability and the importance of education  for their empowerment.
3. Indigenous individuals have the right not to be  subjected to any discriminatory conditions of labour and, inter alia,  employment or salary.

Article 18
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in  decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through  representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures,  as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making  institutions.

Article 19
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the  indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in  order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and  implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

Article 20
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and  develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be  secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and  to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities.
2. Indigenous peoples deprived of their means of  subsistence and development are entitled to just and fair redress.

Article 21
1. Indigenous peoples have the right, without  discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions,  including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational  training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security.
2. States shall take effective measures and, where  appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their  economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the  rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and  persons with disabilities.

Article 22
1. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and  special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with  disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration.
2. States shall take measures, in conjunction with  indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full  protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.

Article 23
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop  priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In  particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in  developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social  programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such  programmes through their own institutions.

Article 24
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to their  traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the  conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous  individuals also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all  social and health services.
2. Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the  enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.  States shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively  the full realization of this right.

Article 25
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen  their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or  otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and  other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in  this regard.

Article 26
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands,  territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or  otherwise used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use,  develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by  reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well  as those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection  to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted  with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous  peoples concerned.

Article 27
States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with  indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and  transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws,  traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the  rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and  resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied  or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this  process.

Article 28
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by  means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair  and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they  have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been  confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and  informed consent.
2. Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples  concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources  equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other  appropriate redress.

Article 29
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the  conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of  their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement  assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and  protection, without discrimination.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that  no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or  territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed  consent.
3. States shall also take effective measures to ensure,  as needed, that programmes for monitoring, maintaining and restoring the health  of indigenous peoples, as developed and implemented by the peoples affected by  such materials, are duly implemented.

Article 30
1. Military activities shall not take place in the  lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant  public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous  peoples concerned.
2. States shall undertake effective consultations with  the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in  particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their  lands or territories for military activities.

Article 31
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain,  control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and  traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their  sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds,  medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions,  literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing  arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their  intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and  traditional cultural expressions.
2. In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall  take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.

Article 32
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and  develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or  territories and other resources.
2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith  with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative  institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the  approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other  resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or  exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just  and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be  taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or  spiritual impact.

Article 33
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their  own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions.  This does not impair the right of indigenous individuals to obtain citizenship  of the States in which they live.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the  structures and to select the membership of their institutions in accordance  with their own procedures.

Article 34
Indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and  maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs,  spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they  exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human  rights standards.

Article 35
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the  responsibilities of individuals to their communities.

Article 36
1. Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by  international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts,  relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural,  political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as  other peoples across borders.
2. States, in consultation and cooperation with  indigenous peoples, shall take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and  ensure the implementation of this right.

Article 37
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the  recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other  constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have  States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive  arrangements.
2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as  diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in  treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

Article 38
States in consultation and cooperation with indigenous  peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures,  to achieve the ends of this Declaration.

Article 39
Indigenous peoples have the right to have access to  financial and technical assistance from States and through international  cooperation, for the enjoyment of the rights contained in this Declaration.

Article 40
Indigenous peoples have the right to access to and prompt  decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and  disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all  infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall  give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of  the indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights.

Article 41
The organs and specialized agencies of the United Nations  system and other intergovernmental organizations shall contribute to the full  realization of the provisions of this Declaration through the mobilization,  inter alia, of financial cooperation and technical assistance. Ways and means  of ensuring participation of indigenous peoples on issues affecting them shall  be established.

Article 42
The United Nations, its bodies, including the Permanent  Forum on Indigenous Issues, and specialized agencies, including at the country  level, and States shall promote respect for and full application of the  provisions of this Declaration and follow up the effectiveness of this  Declaration.

Article 43
The rights recognized herein constitute the minimum  standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of  the world.

Article 44
All the rights and freedoms recognized herein are equally  guaranteed to male and female indigenous individuals.

Article 45
Nothing in this Declaration may be construed as diminishing  or extinguishing the rights indigenous peoples have now or may acquire in the  future.

Article 46
1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as  implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any  activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or  construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or  impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of  sovereign and independent States.
2. In the exercise of the rights enunciated in the  present Declaration, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all shall be  respected. The exercise of the rights set forth in this Declaration shall be  subject only to such limitations as are determined by law and in accordance  with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be  non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing  due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for meeting  the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society.
3. The provisions set forth in this Declaration shall  be interpreted in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect  for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith.

(2) See resolution 2200 A  (XXI), annex.

(3) A/CONF.157/24 (Part I),  chap. III.

(4) Resolution 217 A (III).

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5 Responses to UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  1. Neelima says:

    Please keep me informed abut the upcmniog conference. In addition to having significant number of Aboriginal members and providing Case Management for Native Health’s Towards Aboriginal Health and Healing’ project, cultural safety is also an issue for our visible minority members.

    • Kevin says:

      Well stated my friend. Our mission is to raise awareness, then urge sensible actions – thank you for your kind support

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you for the work you do to help. I look forward to a good future, where all people have opportunities available to reach their potential and follow their dreams. Much respect and blessings to you.

  2. I obtained great information out of your web site

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