United Nations
Information Centre | Nepal
Rights of Indigenous Peoples - Nepal Participatory Constitution Building Booklet Series No. 6 Centre
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The term indigenous generally designates people who were the "original" inhabitants of a given territory, i.e. people who were already there before the currently dominant ethnic group arrived or established state borders. This is easier to establish in countries with a history of colonization and massive population movements, such as in the Americas and Australia. It also refers to people who have been living independently or largely isolated from the influence of the claimed governance by a nation-state, such as rain forests. An additional criterion is that such people have maintained at least in part their distinct linguistic, cultural and social/organizational characteristics, and are differentiated in some degree from the surrounding populations and dominant culture of the nation-state. Another essential factor is that they self-identify as indigenous, and/or are recognized as such by other groups.
Nepal is one of the 20 countries (and the only one in Asia) to have ratified the primary international legal instrument on this subject, the Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the International Labour Organization (ILO, no. 169) in September 2007. It also has a law related to indigenous nationalities since 2002. These instruments afford a number of significant rights to indigenous groups and individuals. This includes the right to exercise control over their own institutions, ways of life and economic development and to develop and maintain their identities. The non-binding UN General Assembly Declaration on Indigenous Peoples of 2007 is even more far-reaching. These documents have become the key reference and advocacy documents for the advancement of indigenous peoples' rights.
According to the 2001 Census, indigenous peoples (known as indigenous nationalities – Adivasi Janajati), comprise 36.31% of the total population of Nepal (then 22.7 million, now estimated at around 28 million). They are in the majority in 27 of the 75 districts. Nepal has identified and recognized 59 nationalities of Nepal through the enactment of the National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities Act, 2002. According to the Act, "indigenous refers to those ethnic groups or communities who have their own mother tongue and traditional customs, different cultural identity, different social structure and written or oral history". Four of them (Magar, Tharu, Tamang, Newar) have population sizes of between 1 million and 3, 6 million, five have between 100,000 to 1,000,000. Several have fewer than 1000 members.
#IndigenousGroups #AdivasiJanajati #RightsOfIndigenousGroups
CCD/UNDP ,   (2009 )
Type / Script:
Publication in English
Thematic Group:
 UNDP : Social and Institutional Developoment
08.03.01  -  Special Groups
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