The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has backed calls to recognise Australia's first people in the constitution.

James Anaya is the keynote speaker at the first World Indigenous Network Conference in Darwin today.

Professor Anaya said he first called for constitutional recognition in a report on Australian Indigenous rights in 2010.

"It's important for indigenous peoples wherever they live, whatever country they live, to feel genuinely included within the societies on terms that are equitable and are based on recognition and their rights as distinct peoples," he said.

"The constitutions of countries are the most basic documents and frame the way society functions, the values it has."

He also said government policies needed to be more respectful of Aboriginal rights.

Professor Anaya said there hadn't been enough collaboration with indigenous people around the world, but that he believed it was changing.

"I'm hopeful that we are seeing a turn in that toward more collaboration, toward new kinds of policies, toward new kinds of arrangements that are genuinely respectful of indigenous people's rights," Professor Anaya said.