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Statistics on indigenous peoples: International effort needed

Abstract

In 2007, the UN General Assembly endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the following years, there has been a strong call from a range United Nations agencies and spokespersons for countries to act to improve their statistics relating to Indigenous peoples as part of their response to the Declaration. These calls have emphasised the need for a holistic approach, describing strengths and resilience of Indigenous peoples and not just a focus on gaps and disadvantage. National responses have been mixed and overall statistics remain inadequate. Significantly, there has been no international statistical effort through the United Nations statistical structures to respond to the Declaration and the increasing array of calls for improved statistics. The United Nations Statistical Commission in particular has an array of mechanisms to study statistical needs and develop solutions across a broad international statistical agenda. It is time for countries to make a concerted effort to improve their own statistics on Indigenous peoples, and to insist that the Statistical Commission work in partnership with the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and other stakeholders to lead a major international drive to improve statistics on and for Indigenous peoples.

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