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International Day of Indigenous Populations

International Day of Indigenous Populations

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By international standards, indigenous people are people who have preserved their traditional systems of organization, their ways of life and their own cultures through the ages, despite the ravages of time and external influences. For this purpose, their needs, demands and designs are specific and unique to their people, and especially different from those of their respective national societies.
On this account Indigenous people ought to have the right and ability, just like others, to participate in public life and to effectively control their destiny and all actions that affect them. They should be able to guarantee their right to decide, to maintain and develop their different ways of life, while participating in the development of their communities.
These populations are also characterized by their vulnerability due to marginalization and discrimination to which they are generally subjected because of their specificity and also the special relationship they have with their cultures, lands and territories.
An international movement to defend the rights of indigenous people was initiated in 1970 by the United Nations (UN) with significant actions taken, including:
- The creation in 1982 by the Economic and Social Council, a Working Group on Indigenous Populations, which is a subsidiary body of the Commission for the fight against Discrimination and Protection of Minorities;
- The creation in 1985 by the General Assembly of the Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Indigenous Peoples, which helps representatives of indigenous communities and indigenous organizations to attend the sessions of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, by providing a financial assistance;
- The proclamation by the General Assembly in its resolution 45/164 of 18 December 1990, of the year 1993 as the International Year of Indigenous Peoples;
- The proclamation by the General Assembly, through its resolution 48/163 of 21 December 1993, of the “Decade of International indigenous peoples (1995-2004) in order to strengthen international cooperation in solving problems faced by indigenous communities, and the creation by the General Assembly of a special fund, the Trust Fund Volunteers for the International Decade of Indigenous Peoples, to help fund projects and programs of the Decade;
- The establishment by the General Assembly in its resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994 (paragraph 8), of the International Day of Indigenous People (9 August each year);
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) has also worked for the recognition of indigenous peoples' rights since its inception, including the adoption in June 1989 of ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.
At the African level, the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights by the African Union (AU) has been a high point in the consideration of indigenous Fulani in Africa. The AU has also established, like the United Nations, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, and a Working Group of Experts on Indigenous Populations / Communities.


Cameroon is a signatory to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Already she submitted an initial report on May 5, 2002 in Pretoria (South Africa) during the 31st Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. A first report was also defended during the 39th Session (09 May 2006) to Banjul (Gambia), and a second periodic report in 2010.
The International Day of Indigenous Peoples is thus celebrated officially in Cameroon since 2009 and the choice of topics shows the desire of governments to ensure effective integration of specific groups as identified in all aspects of socio-economic development of our country:
- 2009: marginal populations, diversity and cultural richness: Trump for development in a context of globalization;
- 2010: socio-economic inclusion of vulnerable indigenous populations: Challenges and Opportunities;
- 2011: vulnerable indigenous populations and access to the citizenship guarantee of effective participation in national life.
Cameroon is indeed characterized by the extraordinary diversity of its populations, with more than 250 ethnic groups. Since independence, government policy has endeavored to ensure national unity, and one of the strategies put in place for this purpose consisted in promoting "national integration." This effort is a mixing of populations in order to improve the understanding between them and reduce particularities.
The preamble of the 18 January 1996 Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon states that "the State shall ensure the protection of minorities and preserves the right of Indigenous Peoples in accordance with the law."
In the absence of a unanimously accepted concept of "indigenous peoples" and subject to the findings of the study on the issue, reference to international standards of identification like those contained in the Operational Directive 4.20[1] of the World Bank, establishes the existence of those communities in Cameroon. We can thus include two categories: the Mbororo communities and Pygmies.



The overall objective of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples is to raise national and international awareness on Cameroon's commitment to ensure, through the Strategy Document for Growth and Employment (SDDE), the promotion and protection of vulnerable social groups considered indigenous under international law and to mobilize all social actors around the social, economic and cultural issues surrounding this necessary consideration.


Specifically, it is about:
1. Ensuring the visibility of actions taken by the government with the support of its partners, for the socio-economic and cultural integration of Vulnerable Indigenous Populations (VIP);
2. Educating all social actors on the need to ensure the inclusion of the social dimension at all stages of the implementation of large projects;
3. Strengthening the technical capacities of the different social actors involved in the promotion and protection of VIP;
4. Sensitizing decentralized communities on their role in improving the living conditions of VIP in the era of decentralization;
5. Urging bilateral and multilateral partners to mobilize resources to support socially vulnerable populations, specifically vulnerable indigenous partners;
6. Putting in place a mechanism for the integration and reintegration of socially vulnerable people in all sectors of activity, including the Indigenous Peoples.

[1] Cette Directive a été révisée et a été substituée par la Politique Opérationnelle PO/PB 4.10


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