On 11 October 2012, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue 18 commemorative stamps in denominations of US$ 0.45, CHF 0.85 and € 0.70 in a mini-sheet format of six stamps each on the theme "Indigenous People". This is the third in a series of stamps on Indigenous People, which were painted by the artist Stephen Bennett (USA).
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 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.
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.