In recent years, there have been significant advances in international thinking and action on indigenous issues and rights.
The International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, being celebrated between 1995-2004, has brought with it advances such as the establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The theme for the Decade was 'Indigenous People: Partnership in Action'. The main objective is the strengthening of international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, education and health.
In 2001, a Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people was appointed in order to gather and receive information and communications from all relevant sources, including Governments, indigenous people themselves and their communities and organizations, on violations of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The United Nations, its partners and indigenous peoples have developed a programme of work that sets standards in regards to indigenous peoples and their rights. An equally important process has been to review developments regularly. The Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) has attended to both these activities since 1982.
One of the principle outcomes in terms of standard setting is under discussion in the open-ended inter-sessional Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights on the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. This draft declaration is currently working its way up through the United Nations system to the General Assembly, where it will be considered as an aspirational document for Nation States and the indigenous peoples of the world