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Discrimination, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, and Social Indicators

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

This article has two focuses. The first is on the subject of indicators, the collection of objective information to measure the socioeconomic and rights situation of indigenous peoples. The international community has spent a good deal of time and effort exploring whether it is possible to construct indicators of performance on human rights, and on whether the indicators commonly used for assessing well-being for populations in general are well adapted to the situation of indigenous peoples, and there is by now a consensus that generally-applicable indicators are not adequate to describe the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples. The problems with constructing such indicators, and the current state of discussion, are outlined. The other part of the article notes that indicators concerning indigenous peoples are available in a certain number of countries. Even though they are not consistent between countries, and in some cases have not been collected long enough to demonstrate progress or the lack thereof, in every country where they are available they show that indigenous peoples are at the bottom of virtually every social indicator – poverty, health, economic participation and other fields. This lack of protection is closely tied to discrimination.

Affiliations: 1: Former Senior Adviser on Human Rights and Director of the Department of Fundamental Principles and Rights, International Labour Organization, Geneva, Switzerland


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