2.1.2 Indigenous peoples on the world stage

Economic, political and social marginalization is not the only situation shared by Indigenous peoples. These groups are also heirs to ancestral cultural wealth, guardians of their land and responsible for the preservation of life on it. They share communal ways of living in which each member of the community plays a role. Social organization features reciprocal relationships among all members, encompassing even the natural environment.

In general, we can say that Indigenous peoples share a number of values, which are manifested in different ways, but that coincide at a basic level and can be observed in expressions of their community life. Among those values are: specific democratic institutions; values of respect for, and a special relationship with, nature; land and resource organization and management; particular forms of family organization; and, of course, special priorities with respect to development.

All of the above highlights that Indigenous peoples have their own characteristics that distinguish them from the general population, and therefore have a series of specific rights. Guaranteeing these rights ensures the opportunity of pursuing development commensurate with their aspirations. Therefore, various treaties and recommendations have been established in the international arena in order to guarantee those rights -- most recently, the 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Recommended Reading