OHCHR and indigenous peoples

“The pandemic hammers home the importance of ensuring that indigenous peoples can exercise their rights to self-government and self-determination… This is about saving lives and protecting a precious web of cultures, languages and traditional knowledge that connect us to the deep roots of humanity.”

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, 9 August 2020

About indigenous peoples and human rights

Attacks on indigenous peoples’ human rights defenders have increased dramatically in recent years for defending their collective rights to lands, territories and resources. Their cultures continue to be threatened, and the protection and promotion of their rights resisted. These conflicts and human rights violations result in the displacement and dispossession of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous women and girls face additional forms of discrimination. They are three times more likely to experience sexual violence compared to non-indigenous women. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these vulnerabilities.

Furthermore, the lack of legal recognition and the lack of disaggregated data are contributing to the invisibility of indigenous peoples, compounding the discrimination they face. This calls for reinvigorated efforts to address the negative legacy of historical injustices, discrimination, and assimilation that indigenous peoples have been subjected to over centuries. 

Read more about indigenous peoples and human rights.

Our work on indigenous issues

The UN Human Rights Office carries out a range of country-specific and regional activities to advance the rights of indigenous peoples. In particular, we:

Read more about OHCHR’s work on indigenous peoples and human rights.

Key documents

CEB Call to Action on Building an Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Future with Indigenous Peoples (2020)

UN System Wide Action Plan on indigenous peoples (2015) PDF: English

Fact Sheet 9: Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Human Rights System (2013) PDF: English 

UNDRIP: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions (2013) PDF: English | Français | Русский | Español

Latest reports and resources

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the rights of indigenous peoples (2020): This report contains information on relevant developments relating to human rights bodies and mechanisms, and outlines the activities undertaken by OHCHR between 1 May 2019 and 31 May 2020. View report page | View document A/HRC/45/22

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the rights of indigenous peoples (2019): The 2019 report focuses on some illustrative examples of OHCHR activities and initiatives undertaken at country, regional and global levels that contribute to the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples. It also outlines recent developments within United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms pertaining to indigenous peoples. View report page | View document A/HRC/42/19

Briefing Paper on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and the 2030 Agenda (2017): The 2030 Agenda has the potential to be transformative for indigenous peoples, if its implementation respects these principles. The 2030 Agenda consists of 17 goals and 169 targets of which 73 have substantial links to the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. PDF: English

Latest news