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It is estimated that indigenous peoples constitute some 370 million individuals, representing more than 5,000 distinct peoples living in more than 70 countries and speaking 5000 different languages. Throughout history, these distinct groups of peoples have tried to maintain their group identity, languages, traditional knowledge, and way of life and, most importantly, the control and management of their lands, territories and natural resources.
It is estimated that indigenous peoples constitute some 370 million individuals, representing more than 5,000 distinct peoples living in more than 70 countries and speaking 5000 different languages. Throughout history, these distinct groups of peoples have tried to maintain their group identity, languages, traditional knowledge, and way of life and, most importantly, the control and management of their lands, territories and natural resources.
Indigenous peoples are the holders of unique languages, knowledge systems and beliefs and possess invaluable knowledge of practices for the sustainable management of natural resources. With their knowledge, skills and experience indigenous peoples contribute to the solution to many global challenges including climate change and the development of life saving medicine. Yet, indigenous peoples continue to be over-represented among the poor, the illiterate, and the unemployed. While they constitute approximately 5 per cent of the world’s population, indigenous peoples make up 15 per cent of the world’s poor. They also make up about one-third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people. The vast majority of indigenous peoples live in the developing world. But in both developing and developed countries, indigenous peoples are generally excluded from political participation; they are economically and socially marginalized and disproportionately represented among the victims of human rights abuses and conflicts. The establishment of processes of consultation is an essential means of ensuring the effective participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making. Loss of land, conflicts and climate change have created rapid changes in the lives of many indigenous peoples and made them migrate for work or settle in urban areas where most end up in the informal economy without social protection or access to decent work. Very often, indigenous peoples have not been recognized as peoples in the Constitution or other national legislation, and they often lack access to identity papers that can prove their citizenship. When a child’s birth goes unregistered, that child is less likely to benefit from the protection accorded by the state in which he or she was born. Later in life, he or she will be unable to vote or stand for election. These children are also at risk of falling victim to child trafficking and are often easy prey for those who exploit their vulnerability, recruiting them as street beggars, domestic servants in slave-like arrangements, or as child soldiers.

Syrian refugees in child labour

  1. Slideshow

    Children's dreams shattered by war 

    Abject poverty is forcing many Syrian refugee families to send their children to work. In Lebanon, host to over a million refugees from Syria, current and former child labourers held a musical and theatrical performance about their plight.

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Global number of children in child labour has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million children.
More than half of children in child labour, 85 million, are in hazardous work (down from 171 million in 2000). Asia and the Pacific has the largest numbers (almost 78 million or 9.3% of child population). Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest incidence of child labour (59 million, over 21%). There are 13 million (8.8%) of children in child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  1. Sandra Polaski

    Deputy Director-General

  2. Greg Vines

    Deputy Director-General

  3. Manuela Tomei

    Head of Social Protection Sector

  4. Moussa Oumarou

    Head of Social Dialogue Sector

  5. Suzanne Hoffman

    Assistant Director-General / Regional Director

  6. Yoshiteru Uramoto

    Assistant Director-General / Regional Director

  1. Guy Ryder

    ILO's Director-General

  2. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry

    Head of Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Sector

  3. José Salazar-Xirinachs

    Head of Employment Sector

  4. Elizabeth Tinoco

    Assistant Director-General / Regional Director

  5. Charles Dan

    Assistant Director-General / Regional Director

  6. Nada Al-Nashif

    Assistant Director-General / Regional Director

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