The Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an international legal tool that contains the minimum standards necessary for survival, dignity and social well-being of the indigenous peoples around the world.
This Declaration counts on the global consensus on its importance as a tool for the universal struggle for human rights. In addition it offers a project based on the principles of self-determination and participation for indigenous people and governments throughout the world. The urgency of full application of the said Declaration is shown by the violations of their most elemental rights that the indigenous peoples constantly undergo.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner’s Office for Human Rights, “The Declaration is the clearest message of support for indigenous peoples and its reach goes much further than any other international text.”
Currently, the Declaration is used by several organisations to interpret and defend the rights of the indigenous Peoples and the obligations that states contract, beginning with international treaties.
A similar use of the Declaration is made by specialized organisations in the United Nations and the mechanisms and special procedures of the Human Rights Council, which include special reports and independent experts. In addition, the Declaration has been employed by domestic and regional courts, as well as by other legal institutions within regional systems for human rights in Africa, America and the Caribbean.
Bolivia stands out from among all the nations that have lifted their voice; it was the first country to approve the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as recognized by President Evo Morales, an indigenous Aymara.
“We are the first country in the world to take this Declaration and convert it into law. It is very important, brothers and sisters. We recognize and hail our representatives’ work; however, if we were to clearly recall the indigenous struggle, many of us would finish crying with the memory of the discrimination and contempt that we suffered,” Morales concluded.
Since the adoption of the Declaration, there have been significant advances in several parts of the world regarding the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples, even though the main challenges persist: establishing a social and corporate responsibility, which would allow the interests of both the State and the private sector to proceed together in pursuit of the welfare of the indigenous communities.