indigenous languages Current Affairs - 2020

9 August: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is globally observed every 9 August with aim to promote and protect rights of indigenous population. Observance of this day seeks to recognize the contributions and achievements of indigenous people to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

2019 Theme: ‘Indigenous Languages’. It is dedicated to languages of indigenous peoples’ in view of 2019 being marked as International Year of Indigenous Languages by United Nations (UN). It seeks to draw attention to critical loss of indigenous languages and urgent need to preserve, promote and revitalize them at both national and international levels.

Why it is important of preserve Indigenous Languages?

The large majority of languages spoken by indigenous peoples are in danger. It is estimated that, every 2 weeks, one indigenous language disappears, placing at risk respective indigenous cultures and knowledge systems.  In response to threats to various indigenous languages, UN General Assembly (UNGA) had adopted Resolution (A/RES/71/178) on ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, proclaiming 2019 as International Year of Indigenous Languages.


International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was pronounced by UNGA by adopting resolution 49/214 in December 1994.

Why August 9? This date marks the day on which 1st meeting of UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights was held in 1982.

Indigenous people: It is estimated that there around 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5% of the world’s population, but account for 15% of the poorest, making them most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in world.. They speak overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures. These people are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained their unique social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of dominant societies in which they live. Indigenous peoples from around the world, despite having cultural differences, are facing common problems related to protection of their rights as distinct peoples and existence.

World Book Day 2019

23rd of April is observed as World Book by UNESCO and other related organisations every year. The city of Sharjah has been selected as the World Book Capital for the year 2019.

World Book Day 2019 is the 24th edition and the theme is centred around round celebrating literature and reading with a particular focus on enhancing and protecting indigenous languages. The theme is in line with the celebration of the International Year of the Indigenous Languages by the UN.

Genesis of the World Book Day

Often also called the World Book and Copyright Day, it aims to promote the joy of books and the art of reading. World Book Day recognises that books are a link between the past and the future, a bridge between cultures and generations.

UNESCO chose 23rd April for the World Book Day to pay tribute to great literary figures including William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega who died on this day and was finalised in the year 1995 in the UNESCO General Conference, held in Paris.

Further UNESCO and organisations representing publishers, booksellers and libraries select World Book Capital for a year to maintain the celebrations of books and reading. For the year 2019, Sharjah, UAE has been declared as the World Book Capital. It will be preceded by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the year 2020.