Economic and Social Council

-- January 2004

Original: ENGLISH


Workshop on Data Collection and Disaggregation for Indigenous Peoples

New York,19 – 21 January 2004



The Workshop on Data Collection and Disaggregation for Indigenous peoples was convened in accordance with decision 2003/300 of the Economic and Social Council, following a recommendation of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at its Second Session.  Data collection was identified as an urgent priority by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in both its First and Second Sessions.  In response the draft decision 1 of the Second Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues concerning “data-collection and indigenous peoples” a workshop was held from 19 to 21 January 2004 .

The Workshop was attended by 36 experts from the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations, governments, indigenous organizations and academics.  The Workshop discussed a number of  case studies and examined challenges and  made recommendations concerning data collection and disaggregation concerning indigenous peoples.

The recommendations, which appear in Part D of the report, promote better data collection and disaggregation concerning indigenous peoples for the consideration of the Permanent Forum at its Third Session (10-21 May 2004).



In presenting the following recommendations, the Workshop recalls that a requirement of the collection and use of disaggregated data concerning indigenous and tribal peoples is implied through such international instruments as  the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No.169) of the International Labour Organisation, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Resolution CD37.R5 of the Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO), as well as in developing instruments such as the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and others.


The following recommendations pertain to states and intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations system:  paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21 and 22.


The following recommendations pertain to states only: paragraphs 7, 8  and 13.


The following recommendations pertain to intergovernmental organizations only: 16, 17.  


The following recommendation pertains to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, states and indigenous institutions and organizations: paragraph 24.


The following recommendation pertains to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the United Nations system: paragraph 25.


The following recommendation pertains to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Working Group on Indigenous Populations: part of paragraph 10.


The following recommendation pertains to indigenous organizations only: paragraph 20.


1.         The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and other relevant United Nations and intergovernmental bodies should recommend to Member States, concerning all relevant data collection exercises, to include questions on indigenous identity with full respect for the principle of self-identification.  It is important to develop multiple criteria with local indigenous peoples’ active and meaningful participation to accurately capture identity and socio-economic conditions.  The Workshop further notes the desirability of having long-term, standardized data based on this principle. 


2.         Data collection concerning indigenous peoples should follow the principle of free prior and informed consent at all levels and take into account both the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics as established by the United Nations Statistical Commission in Decision 47 of 1994 (Appendix V) and the collective rights of indigenous peoples.  For indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation, data collection exercises should not be used as a pretext for establishing forced contact.

3.         Data collection should be in accordance with provisions on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and with data protection regulations and privacy guarantees including respect for confidentiality.

4.         Indigenous peoples should fully participate as equal partners, in all stages of data collection, including planning, implementing, analyzing and dissemination, access and return, with appropriate resourcing and capacity building to do so. Data collection must respond to the priorities and aims of the indigenous communities themselves.  Participation of indigenous communities in the conceptualization, implementation, reporting, analysis and dissemination of data collected is crucial, both at the country and international levels. Indigenous peoples should be trained and employed by data collecting institutions at national and international levels.  The process of data collection is critical for the empowerment of the communities and for identifying their needs.  Indigenous communities should have the right to have data (primary and aggregated) returned to them, for their own use, noting the importance of the confidentiality of such data, particularly as applicable to individuals who have participated. In conducting data collection exercises, governments should involve indigenous peoples from the earliest stages (planning and community education) and ensure ongoing partnerships in collecting, analysing and disseminating data.

5.         Data collection exercises should be conducted in local indigenous languages to the extent possible and where no written language exists, should employ local indigenous peoples (as translators/interpreters as well as advisors) to assist in the collection process.

6.         Both quantitative and qualitative data, should be used and combined to provide a holistic picture of the indigenous situation.

7.         The primary responsibility for ensuring data collection lies with governments.

8.         Civil and vital registration systems should be explored as additional sources of statistics on indigenous peoples.

9.         For international organizations, data collection should be mainstreamed.  It should aim at the formulation of development and other public policies including those addressing poverty, the full spectrum of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the 3x5 Initiative on HIV/AIDS and others.  It should also be used to assess the impact of development assistance and to promote social dialogue at the national level.  It is recommended that:

a.         The United Nations system use and further refine existing indicators, such as the Common Country Assessment (CCA) indicators, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) indicators, and country progress reports, other global monitoring instruments, and the Human Development Indexes, to measure the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples;

b.         The National Human Development Reports, produced through nationally-owned, editorially independent processes, could systematically include case studies, and should include disaggregated data on indigenous and tribal peoples.

c.         Participatory poverty assessments of the World Bank could collect and disaggregate data on the poverty situation of indigenous and tribal peoples in all its dimensions, including those defined by indigenous and tribal peoples themselves.

d.         Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys as well as Demographic Health Surveys of    UNICEF should be beneficially used to collect data on indigenous peoples.

10.       The rights-based approach to development requires the development of a conceptual framework for rights based indicators, that are relevant to indigenous and tribal peoples.  It should take into account not only a process of full, active and meaningful participation of indigenous and tribal communities at all stages of data collection, but also indicators that are of particular significance to indigenous peoples, such as access to territories (land and waters), access to resources, participation in decision-making, as well as issues of discrimination or exclusion in the areas of economic, social and cultural rights.  Rights based indicators to be used for data collection and disaggregation on indigenous peoples should be capable of reflecting the current status of the realization of their human rights, be useful in policy articulation and prescription and should measure both the process and the outcome of development activities.  They should be able to measure dimensions of the process of the realization of human rights, such as participation, non-discrimination, empowerment and accountability.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Working Group on Indigenous Populations should be encouraged to contribute to the elaboration of rights based indicators to measure the situation of indigenous peoples. This would also allow for a broad participation of indigenous peoples and others in the discussion and design of such indicators.

11.       In analyzing data, the full diversity and demographic profile of indigenous communities should be taken into account, including gender, children, youth and aged persons, as well as people with disabilities.

12.       In data collection methods and analysis, it should be borne in mind that indigenous peoples live not only in remote and rural areas but also in urban areas and in a wide variety of situations in various countries, and that these peoples are often divided by national borders.  Moreover, it should be taken into account that they are increasingly migrating across borders as the result of globalization and conflict and this reality needs to be reflected in data questions, methods and analysis.

13.       In conducting all relevant data collection exercises, governments should include indicators to capture the full ethnic and cultural diversity of specific regions to allow the context of the local indigenous peoples to be fully revealed.

14.       International agencies and governments should support the development of and further encourage governments in the development, collection and analysis of data on indigenous and tribal peoples in regions where this is less developed, in particular in Africa , Asia , the Caribbean and part of the Pacific, using extensions of exiting systems where appropriate.

15.       The data collected should be specific to the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples, while also allowing comparability with other national and international populations.

16.       A source of data to be explored is the material collected by UN agencies, funds and programmes while carrying out development projects.  Such material is rarely centralized or publicly available.  Agencies should be encouraged, during their development projects and other activities, to collect data in a way that will make them easier to share and publicize.

17.       It is recommended that inter-governmental organizations, funds and programmes launch a coordinated data collection exercise in one or more countries, with the aim of developing a common approach and of maximizing the impact of development assistance concerning indigenous and tribal communities and peoples.

18.       In developing a picture of the living conditions of various indigenous and tribal peoples, there is a need to ensure that environment is adequately included in data collected.

19.       Collaboration between national, regional and international data collecting bodies is strongly recommended to advance this issue at a global level.

20.       Indigenous controlled statistics initiatives are encouraged to work as part of the whole data collection system on a national level to ensure that data collection systems do not become disjointed or possibly lead to the fragmentation of national systems.

21.       Data collection should include (but not be limited to):

a.       Capturing the statistics of nomadic, semi-nomadic and migrating peoples and peoples in transition, as well as displaced persons;

b.       Capturing information on particularly vulnerable sections of indigenous and tribal peoples.

22.       Policy makers and those designing data collection exercises should be sensitized and trained regarding the nature of the populations being surveyed and the purposes for which data is being sought.

23.       It is recommended as one of the next steps, that a workshop be organized, with the participation of indigenous peoples, to develop methodological tools, guidelines, examples of questions that could assist in identifying indigenous and tribal peoples and indicators for data collection concerning indigenous and tribal peoples.

24.       There is an immense amount of data already in existence in national surveys, research institutions, scientific publications and in particular, data generated by indigenous organizations and communities.  The Workshop recommends that as part of the next step/s in this process:

a.         Under-used sources of statistics at the national level be fully exploited;

b.         The Permanent Forum invite an appropriate institution to conduct a literature watch to capture existing data in scientific reviews and elsewhere relevant to indigenous peoples and that it should also examine the feasibility of identifying an institution to serve as a clearing house for all existing data on indigenous issues.

c.         Indigenous institutions and organizations be encouraged to generate relevant data and to co-ordinate their activities in this field and in partnership with governments to the extent possible.