Written by Miguel Andres D. Iringan
Edited Alexandra Bravo Schroth
“Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous Peoples and the Call for a New Social Contract”
“Let us continue our stand, protect our ancestral land, and defend our rights for the sake of the future generations” – Children of Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in the Philippines, 2016
When living in a constant state of change, it is only natural that one’s view of the world shifts. As time progresses, the value of appreciating the essence of Indigenous Peoples around the globe lessens as the group is subjected to inequality, violence, and prejudice, making their existence unbearable.
December 23, 1994 – the day that brought our fellow Indigenous Peoples across the globe a bright switch as the General Assembly of the United Nations first proclaimed August 09 as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to honor and to recognize them. This resolution is directly linked to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights’ inaugural meeting, which took place in 1982.
Today’s celebration primarily aims to ensure the rights of the world’s indigenous population and acknowledge their efforts and achievements through their works that have significantly improved predefined world issues, chiefly environmental protection and more.
With the celebration’s variety yet powerful themes, the theme for this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is entitled, “Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous Peoples and the Call for a New Social Contract”.
Nichols (2005) defined Social Contract as an unofficial deal between privileged groups to collaborate for economic and social gains. The challenge with this approach is that Indigenous Peoples mainly were excluded from it, despite the fact that they had been forced through their resources, traditions, languages, and lands. To illustrate this system, we can analyze their situation during the COVID-19 Pandemic, when they were the most vulnerable to contracting the virus due to a lack of access to healthcare, insufficient knowledge about the disease, financial instability, and poor sanitation, regardless of their traditional lifestyles (United Nations, 2021).
To overcome the issue, the United Nations proposed to revise the social contract as a statement of collaboration for the general betterment of people and the environment, based on proper involvement and engagement that supports equitable opportunities and values all people’s rights, freedom, and dignity. Since this statement emphasizes the celebration’s objectives, it is both advantageous and wise to require Indigenous Peoples’ involvement under such decision-making. It is an essential aspect of attaining harmony among Indigenous Peoples and the community.
Everyone is welcome to advocate this cause; let us commemorate the worth of our fellow 476 million indigenous peoples by safeguarding their legacy, dispelling misconceptions, and embracing their identity, which has the potential to bring about a remarkable transformation around the globe.
Furthermore, there will also be a virtual session for the celebration, which is open to Indigenous Peoples, Member States, UN institutions, civil society, and the general public.
UNESCO (2020, August 7) International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/indigenouspeoplesday
Lumads – Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao, Philippines – are Rising for Revolution! [Video]. (2016, January 6). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwQpFmcR2eY&feature=youtu.be
Nichols, R. L. (2005). Realizing the Social Contract: The Case of Colonialism and Indigenous Peoples. Contemporary Political Theory, 4(1), 42–62. https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300153
United Nations. (2020, August 8). International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. https://www.un.org/en/observances/indigenous-day
United Nations For Indigenous Peoples. (2021, May 26). COVID-19 and Indigenous peoples United Nations For Indigenous Peoples https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/covid-19.html
United Nations For Indigenous Peoples. (2021, July 21). International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2021 United Nations For Indigenous Peoples. https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/international-day-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples-2021.html