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Indigenous People 2010

On 21 October 2010, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue 18 commemorative stamps in a mini-sheet format of six stamps each on the theme "Indigenous People". This is the second set of stamps on this theme.

Indigenous people are the inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to other people and to the environment. Indigenous people have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, the various groups of indigenous people around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.

Estimates point to more than 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries worldwide. While they are from diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds, they share challenges such as lack of basic health care, limited access to education, loss of control over land, discrimination, forced assimilation, abject poverty, displacement, human rights violations, and economic and social marginalization.

Indigenous people around the world have sought recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources; yet throughout history, their rights have been violated. Indigenous peoples are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world today. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect the rights of the world's indigenous peoples.

The landmark United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, drafted and debated for more than 20 years, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007. The Declaration is the most comprehensive statement of the rights of indigenous peoples ever developed, giving prominence to collective rights to a degree unprecedented in international human rights law. It emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to live in dignity, to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their self-determined development, in keeping with their needs and aspirations. The adoption of this Declaration is the clearest indication yet that the international community is committing itself to the protection of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon called upon Member States to promote development while respecting the values and traditions of indigenous peoples at the opening of the annual forum, held in New York in April of this year.

"The loss of irreplaceable cultural practices and means of artistic expression makes us all poorer, wherever our roots may lie," Secretary-General Ban told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. This year's theme at the forum was "Development with Culture and Identity".
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