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In 1994, the UN General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World's Indigenous People should be observed on 9 August every year during the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. Ten years later, in 2004, the UN General Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, aimed at strengthening "international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development".

The Programme of Action for the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People contains clear recommendations such as fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources, cultural, environmental and social impact assessments for developments on sacred sites, lands and waters traditionally occupied and used by indigenous and local communities, full and meaningful participation of indigenous people in programmes and projects planned on their territories and the non-persecution or harassment of indigenous persons promoting the protection of the environment.

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