Statement on the International Youth Day 2020

12th August 2020

Since the declaration of the International Youth Day by the General Assembly, every year on the 12 August, youths and youth organizations around the world celebrate this special day through organizing diverse events. We, Indigenous People in Asia, believes that the observation of the International Youth Day drives the Indigenous Youths to reflect on the past and contemporary situation and to bring vision to the future of Indigenous Peoples and Youths in Asia as well as in other parts of the world. The UN has declared the theme of International Youth Day 2020, “Youth Engagement for Global Action” that aims to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young peoples at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multinational institutions and processes as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional policies can be significantly enhanced.

In the world’s populations, Indigenous Peoples constitute about five percent and comprise 15% of the world’s extreme poor. Of the estimated 370 million Indigenous Peoples in the world, around two-thirds live in the Asia and Pacific regions and one-third of the total estimated Indigenous Peoples are youths who, like all the other young peoples in this region are facing a time of key life transition and uncertainty about the future. In addition to navigating these new aspects of life, young people from Indigenous Peoples face a range of unique social and cultural challenges. Indigenous Peoples normally live in remote locations with less access to modern education, health, and other services than their fellow countrymen. Formal decision-making and governance structure are often led by a group of chosen leaders who are informally advised by wise elders in the community. Most decisions and programs at all levels are also influenced by popular opinions. The customary institutions are in mutilated forms due to varied reasons such as invasion, occupation, militarization, development aggression, assimilation, political domination, and the imposition of state structure, etc. This institutional challenge has led to extreme conditions where the Indigenous Peoples including youths constantly went through or are experiencing collective trauma.

We deem the youth as the country’s greatest national asset, and they are indeed the future of the community and the country. The role of youths in nation-building is more important than we might think. The intelligence and work of the youth will take the country on the pathway of success. Today, they might be our partners, tomorrow they will go on to become leaders. The youths are very energetic and enthusiastic. They could learn and adapt to the environment. Similarly, they are willing to learn and act on it as well to achieve their goals. Our youth can bring social reform and improvement in society. Furthermore, the nation requires their participation to achieve the goals and help in taking the country towards progress. Likewise, we must make all youths aware of their power and the role they must play in nation-building.

Being in line with the theme “Youth Engagement for Global Action” of International Youth Day 2020 and deeply realizing the role and engagement of the Indigenous Youths in the indigenous movements, we,  Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and Asia Indigenous Youth Platform (AIYP) would like to bring forward the following recommendations to national, international communities and indigenous leaders for their proper actions as well as making true the theme of International Youth Day 2020.

The Government / States:

  1. Ensure the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other international commitments relating to Indigenous Peoples such as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) Outcome Document, and the adaptation of ILO 169.
  2. Ensure accountability, measurability, and transparency of all State and Federal personnel including corporations and businesses, and to comply with/respect the Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights and other international instruments.
  3. Implement culturally appropriate programs, mother tongue-based education curriculum for Indigenous Peoples with integrated Indigenous Knowledge that will be adopted into state laws and policies.
  4. Recognize Indigenous Peoples as distinct peoples with their collective rights to protect land rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the right to self-determination; and
  5. Ensure the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Youth in decision-making processes as well as in the decision-making bodies, on implementation of plans towards national development as embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

International and regional communities and agencies:

  1. Express solidarity to the issues affecting the life and future of Indigenous Youths and Indigenous Peoples.
  2. Work in partnership and collaboration with Indigenous Youth organizations on Indigenous Youths’ issues and engage them in the global processes and mechanisms.
  3. Work with state governments focusing on livelihood generation and security issues of Indigenous Peoples and,
  4. Highlight the issues affecting Indigenous Peoples in the regional and global forums.

Indigenous Peoples Organizations and Institutions:

  1. Conduct documentation of traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples with the involvement and participation of Indigenous Youth.
  2. Conduct activities on intergenerational transfer of knowledge.
  3. Provide support and resources for the implementation of programs that will capacitate second line leaders within traditional institutions and organization; and
  4. Support networking, learning exchange programs, and activities for Indigenous Youth at different levels.

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Bangkok-UNDP and Bangkok-UNESCO and Asia Indigenous Youth Platform

Gam A. Shimray
Secretary General,
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

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