Message at the celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, 9 August 2021, Manila, Philippines

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 09 August 2021
My special greetings to millions of indigenous peoples around the world, including the Philippines, as we celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

My congratulations to the organizers of this webinar: the National Commission of Muslim Filipinos, the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Earthsavers Dream Center- UNESCO Artist for Peace, the Philippine Center of the International Theatre Institute, the ITI Social Change Network, and the DZRH Radio Balintataw.

The ILO greatly appreciates to be part of this initiative.

The United Nations proclaimed August 9 each year as the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population.

The 2021 theme focuses on “Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract”.

We recognize the achievements and contributions indigenous peoples have made in a number of areas. People everywhere, often without realizing it, have been influenced by their cultures and achievements.

Indigenous peoples know that the world is changing. If not addressed, it can threaten the way of life they aspire for and for future generations.

The increasingly complex and rapidly transforming world, including the world of work, undergo changes from climate change to globalization.

The COVID-19 pandemic worsened pre-existing inequalities and vulnerabilities faced by indigenous peoples.

Their remoteness, continuing discrimination, including the lack of infrastructure and poor access to public services, including health, water and sanitation, further aggravate pre-crisis situation characterized by poorer health outcomes and poverty.

Indigenous peoples’ lack of access to information and health care services, fall behind national average. Those who lost their jobs and livelihoods in urban centres have no option but to return to their communities.

There is a need for a new social contract to ensure indigenous peoples are not left behind. A key component of the social contract is respect for the rights of indigenous peoples to participate on all matters affecting them, including through dialogue, and free prior and informed consent.

These principles are embodied in the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169). It is also restated in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples.

Recently, member States have adopted the Global Call to Action to ensure a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that no one is left behind.

ILO Convention 169 is the only binding, international treaty open for ratification that offers an integrated framework to inclusive and sustainable development, and deals exclusively with the protection of rights - including land rights, access to natural resources, health, education, training, conditions of employment and contacts across borders.

Once ratified, an ILO member State binds itself to apply the provisions of this Convention. The Philippines has not yet ratified the convention.

We would like to remain optimistic that the country will ratify the Convention. In 2019, indigenous peoples, some government bodies, and members of civil society took ownership to promote its ratification.

This International Day is also about strengthening cooperation. The ILO has been working with indigenous peoples since 1920s. In the Philippines, the ILO has been involved in addressing development challenges of indigenous peoples since the 1990s.

Within the Decent Work Country Programme of the Philippines, we continue to mobilize resources and partnerships, including the UN.

Our support towards the promotion and ratification of ILO Convention 169 remains. We are also completing the Indigenous Peoples Country profile covering the Philippines and other countries. The profile will complement tools and strengthen capacity, including through relevant training programmes.

The ILO will also work with other UN agencies under the Socio Economic and Peace Building Framework for the Philippines.

The ILO further supported the development and adoption of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). We will also work to support projects in the Bangsamoro region, such as the new water system built by indigenous peoples to promote decent work, provide safe water and contribute to peace under the ILO Japan Water and Sanitation Project.

Our framework for assistance based on ILO Convention 169 responds to the call for a new social contract for indigenous peoples. This is to ensure a human-centred approach that leaves no one behind.

We continue to work together and count on you to support indigenous women and men in building a world that works for all.

Amid the pandemic, we hope that you will continue the journey to promote and ratify ILO Convention 169 in the Philippines.

On this Day, the ILO reiterates its partnership in support of indigenous and tribal peoples, guided by the values and principles decent work and the ILO Convention 169.

Mabuhay and Happy International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples!