community, and culture. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Globalization and Me Jonathan Sanchez
Virtual Global Museum Tour
The topic I researched was museum websites around the world. The idea that someone an artist, student, scholar can now view works from museum collections via the internet may seem like old news. Yet virtual presence of museums has recently dramatically changed. Museums are no longer merely one place in one geographic location they have gone global.
Looking into changing museums in particular the web personas of museum I discovered a few great books on the subject. The most important of these sources was from Bautista, she takes on the subject of museums and technology headon. Most of the other sources address the idea of what a museum means, how that meaning has changed over time and what the future holds for museums. Bautista addresses all of these ideas as well but really looks deeper in the culture that has inspired museums and the technology that has changed them.
As someone that has been in out of the museum field for many years, I witnessed the clash between traditional museum culture and the introduction of technology into that world. When I began in museums it was still common to find film cameras, accession files were usually a kind of library card catalogue system, signage might involve silk screening or a print shop. While in the field all of these things were relegated to some museum somewhere. Now data entry is the most common job listing on most museum websites, close behind it museum educators. The clerical work, that is in museum culture, the important stuff is all done on a computer, but the museum educator is a new symptom of a more user friendly museum culture. Likewise, most museums offer educators packets, additional info, and virtual tours of the collection. In short the two go hand in hand museums consider the outreach potential of the web presence and persona while documenting recording their collections.
“Globalization put pressure on museums to think in terms of a global network,” (Bautista, 2005, pg 17). A very important notion one of global cultural heritage versus regional or national has shaped and driven museums in this century. Along these lines the most important question Bautista raised in her introduction was, “How can technology help all museums to better understand and engage their communities?”
My Virtual Museum Hop
To create my work and finish my research I set up a loose perimeter for virtual fieldwork. Beginning in Phoenix I would museum hop eastward eventually circling the globe and finish in San Francisco. I would test the museums websites, observe them, and make notes. Further I would consider them aesthetically and look for some thread that might be carried into my final artwork. The challenge was to be inspired by the websites as an artist to create a work inspired by the process. In turn the websites would be part of the work with links available for viewing.
The Phoenix Art Museum site is useful and not unattractive. As I roamed it I was struck by a particular Georgia O’Keefe work Canyon Country and thought it might be useful as a starting point. Then I noticed they have a touring exhibit of on Leonardo and became torn as to my direction. I ended up using the Leonardo after going and seeing the show at the museum. I also did my research at the PAM library and archive.
Leonardo inspired mixed media work. Print techniques, pen, and acrylic.
The New York Museum of Modern Art is of course sprawling and fantastic where else can you see an entire Japanese village, and Egyptian temple under one roof? The site is also impressive in its way it is visually stunning and full of information and images. A Miro Hirondelle Amour (1934) work kept popping up and I thought it might inform my work. I decided to explore his work further on the site and decided he would inform me in general but no specific work would.
Miro informs the work in small ways, but no specific work was borrowed from.
London Tate Modern
The Tate Modern site is austere even frugal as if they could spare the pixels needed for color or perhaps it is an attempt at a clean elegance that would make Mies Van Der Rohe proud.
I was struck by the ancient looking but timeless work of Henry Moore, in particular, the stone work, “Decumbent Figure” (1938). The simple abstracted reclining figure would be echoed through my hop through several other cultures.
sketch of the Henry Moore work
Paris Louvre online
The Louvre is such an impressive building with so much of French history tied up in it, it is fitting that they have the most extensive virtual tour I ran across. You really seem to glide through the museums it is impressive. As you stop at various works you can engage with them and learn more about them. I discovered my reclining figure a few more times on this page.
original sketches for Paris and Istanbul
Museum of Modern Art Berlin
The Berlin Museums site was very bright and friendly and I was struck by the mix of works present. A work by the artist Rainer Fetting Gelbe Mauer, (Yellow Wall 1977) really struck me and I thought I might use it for inspiration for my final work.
I used the pallete of the above mentioned work but did not incorporate the work directly.
Istanbul Modern Art Museum
The Istanbul site was more European than any of the other sites, it seemed a homage to the De Stijl in particular Mondrian. As simple photo work made a big impression on me and I decided to reinterpret the work from Barbara and Zater Baran from their exhibit Observatory 2015.
graphite and monoprint
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
I begin to feel as if the same web designer is working on all of the museum sites. Most of the pages seem to follow a common aesthetic of mostly white with thumbnails as if imitating the long standing convention of white walls in museum. The first thing I see on the site however is my reclining figure again this time in green as depicted by Alexander Pogorhelsky.
Moscow and Berlin sketches
New Delhi National Museum of India
Finally a museum marches to its own drum and hangs thumbnails on a black background. Strangely enough the first image I see is another reclining figure this time frame the BC. That was the point where the research and project became a little spooky I had gone through time and around the globe and found not differences but the same thing over again.
Delhi and Tokyo sketches
Tokyo National Museum
Back to the normal images on white convention for a very useful and impressive site overall. A tiny jade axe caught my eye while wandering the site it seemed similar to an abstract figure from Henry Moore though it was listed as being from 3000 BCE. I began sense a theme of technology from stone tools, to the devices of the Renaissance from Leonardo to bridges of the final work. Coupled with the images of figures it began to take on this universal idea of all of mankind throughout time.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Back in the USA the San Francisco museum site comes off as the most modern polished and stylish that I encountered on my travels. In truth I set out to do the research and looking at the landing page of the SF museum I discovered an image of thousands of little images. I then thought would it be great to make a piece like this and then paint it. So the step of painting it would add an expressive quality not present in the photos.
A photo of a sculpture entitled Bridges from the artist Mark de Suvero really caught my eye and took me back to the Leonardo devices from the first museum.
What I have found is that it is possible and even easy to work in this way that is to draw inspiration from museum sites and their digital collections. The potential for global work is therefore great. How will young artists with access to these global treasure troves be inspired is an incredible question to ponder? Museum websites and their openness allows for the furthering of and an artistic celebration of a global cultural heritage.
My final work entitled, “Human Devices,” is both a play on the idea that the images are inpart of devices created by humans and artistic representations of the human form through several cultures over a vast amount of time. Spanning (no pun intended) suspension bridges back to stone tools the work revels in ingenuity.
“Human Devices,” 2015 41x23 mixed media (acrylic, graphite, monoprint, pen on eight canvases
ReferencesBautista, S. S. (2014). Museums in the digital age: Changing meanings of place,
community, and culture. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Link to the short film on the subject of my ancestry and origins.
Link to the short film on the subject of my ancestry and origins.
Migration and integration
My family history is something I have been over and over again. As if looking for clues in the fractured dysfunctional thing labeled a family. I have done everything from genealogy and DNA testing, to travels and interviews with family members. What I have found is that it is an American right to make up your identity. I have within my family seven nationalities, on four continents, speaking six languages, so to identify with only one aspect would be a shame. Historically, my ancient ancestors were reportedly Jewish from the south of Spain and Canary Islands. Perhaps a little thing called the Inquisition had something to do with my folks wanting to get to the other side of the world, where over time they would become Christian. My name according to a museum colleague of mine a bit of scholar on the middle east and Judaica, has told me that my name is what is known as a converso name often spelled Sanchus or Sanches but by Jews it is spelled Sanchez.
My relatives landed in the caribbean becoming known as Spanish Colonist, and later as Americans after the Isle of Puerto Rico was seized by the U.S through the Spanish American War. My relatives reportedly became part Native American (though the above DNA test did not show evidence of this). It did show Ethiopian, North African, Roma, and Sephardic Jewish traits.
As a territory Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. but without the full privileges or rights of say a state. The residents of the island still live in a political limbo without the right to vote in U.S matters but the right to die in U.S. wars. In the 50’s New York was overwhelmed with an influx of immigrants from the Isle of Enchantment, resulting in widespread, exclusion, racism, and discrimination. A Puerto Rican neighborhood was synonymous with the worst part of town. My parents lived through this hatred and invented identities for themselves. My father and grandfather show their ancient African features which had some consequences when visiting the south in the 60’s. My grandfather for example was denied access to a white hospital and my father while in school in Texas often feared using white restrooms.
I stress all of this to say that my father chose to not see himself as black though the world sometimes did. Growing up to present, there is a weird bond a naturalness with African Americans that lets me know that a sort of cultural memory has survived in me. I have if nothing else a strong reverence for African American culture and its struggle to survive in a country that at times has tried to be unicultural.
Had my parents grown up now how would they have identified I do not know. My mother was always guarded and secretive. When pushed to answer questions her and her mother would, but with caution. Yes we are indian, yes we were jews and yes we are gypsy they would admit to me after years of hiding all three. It took a DNA test to confirm some of this but if you are from people that have been persecuted, relocated, and exterminated you keep secrets.
I embrace all of it as much of it as I can. I tried in big and little ways to figure what it all means. Learning about and experiencing Roma, Jewish culture through practicing friends, museum visits, and travels. Through blues history I celebrate that part of my life and teach it to school groups and adults on a regular basis.
My family my most important family comes to me through my wife. Marrying a Swiss national I see what all immigrants go through the ignorance and silliness that is handed out to foreigners is both amusing and troubling. My brother married a Colombian woman he has it much worse than me, my biggest hassle is continually explaining that Switzerland and Sweden are two different countries.
I have continually visited Switzerland for more than tens years and lived there for more than five years. In that time I became a serious student of the history and many cultures that make up the country. Learning German allowed me to learn of the larger Germanic world. It is as if it is our own little secret language in this country when we go out and want privacy. There is a coziness to be able speak my wife’s mother tongue and copy the cooking of her homeland. Now after so many years I feel as if part of me is Swiss and may live there again one day who knows.
The way my in laws live and have lived, their stubbornness and frugality, and that they have been married for fifty years is an incredible inspiration to me. In truth I look to my in laws as a model more than my own parents.
My family is distant I have contact with my mother (though I didn’t know her as a child or grow up with her) and younger brother Jeff. He and I have dabbled in genealogy playing the family detectives looking for clues about our past removed from it and placed in mainstream America. My aunts tell me my dad wanted to be John Wayne, and my mother Marilyn Monroe. Growing up in the time of the Sharks and the Jets, “as no good PRs,” I can understand why they wanted to be anything other than what they actually were. I choose to look forward focus on my family that I inherited through my wife and most of all my wife.
The past is a murky mess for me and I prefer to move on make a family with my wife.
German (and Swiss German a spoken language more of a dialect)
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Lesson 2: Local and Global: Hybridized Identities and Practices
Reading Review and Personal Reflection
Essay (Breaking Down of the Other Through Art)
Though not an official companion to or on the list of suggested reading I found the writing from Wanda B. Knight entitled Never Again to be useful and insightful augmentation to the Frostig writing on the holocaust. All three papers address issues of place, personal and familial history and the possibilities artists and art educators have to start very meaningful discussions on these big ideas.
The holocaust works of of Frostig, and Knight discuss the ideas of authoritarian regimes pushing an agenda based on hatred. The Delacruz writing deals with a cultural and historic void felt by Chinese girls raised in a new culture. Frosting as an American trying to reconnect to Vienna and adopted Chinese children raised in America both find themselves searching for a sense of history, and place. As well the feelings of dislocation that the many adopted Chinese girls raised in the States tend to feel is similar to what Frostig describes. Giving the example of attempts at multi-cultural assignments in their contradictory effects, the sense of being out of place is addressed. Though the paper addresses all recent immigrants, for adopted children or recent immigrants or second generation children whose families are not intact, "for the minority student whose family lineages ..are in flux..these assignments may be confusing, invasive, humiliating..or nearly impossible to complete." (Delacruz, 2012 pg. 235).
Another theme that surfaces in all three writings is stereotypes versus the real. Creating stereotypes according to Knights writing can exasperate the creation of the other (Knight, 2009, pg. 72). Further leading to the creation of less than human caricatures, allowing for the mistreatment of those falsely portrayed. In the case of the holocaust writings this formulation had dire consequences, in the case of the Delacruz writing these stereotypes result in, that (the children in question) never really felt accepted here by their ethnic group of origin...or by white mainstream Americans. Leading to the sense that Frostig echoes of not really belonging anywhere being between worlds due to a historically severed connection.
The final theme present in all three works relates to art education. They all seem to issue warnings or at least caution that the way art is taught can often have the opposite effect intended. That simply adhering blindly to standardized testing is still re-enforcing a sort of dogma (therefore a dominant white view). Finally, that a real and meaningful connection needs to be established to end racism one student at a time.
Specific terms culture keeping reminds of the Chien-hua Kuo article which describes the scholarly efforts to create a suscint Taiwanese identity through children's books, and other teaching aids. In a sense recent immigrant or adopted international children are also trying to create their own national identity and hopefully find their place in the larger US mainstream. Similarly Frostig writes of reclaiming here German Jewish heritage, will immigrant populations also follow this process? Frostig describes constructivist educational approach as, one that is an inquiry-based pedagogy, which promotes deep understanding (not imitative behavior). This thinking can be applied to all the of the writings addressed in this essay, racism is imitative status quo, stereotyping is similar, and ethnic food fair type educational efforts only re-enforce (by trivializing), the dominant culture.
Most of my cultural practices stem from marrying a European person. It has necessitated spending large amounts of time in Europe, using German and creating a household that follows many rules of Swiss culture.
If my wife and I are at my parents house they know before eating to state, En Guete (pronounced, In gweta) the most basic of Swiss expressions meaning enjoy your meal or good appetite etc.. So though we did not grow up saying that it is now commonly used in my household and that of my parents when visiting. When entering a Swiss household you will always deposit your shoes at the front door. As a result at my home there is always a pile of shoes at the door one pair mine the other six belonging to my wife. Though unnecessary I think on some level it feels more like a Swiss home when there are so many shoes at the door. Its little cultural things that make our home in the States or in Europe feel a little more Swiss than American.
At Halloween while living in Switzerland I had to carve a pumpkin it was fascinating and strange to see but everyone in the neighborhood had to steal a peek at this glowing head in the window. I had big Thanksgiving dinners which the French, German, Italian, Swiss and Austrian guests that experienced that meal with me found very enjoyable and beautiful. In some ways these meals broke down the poor stereotype of burger eating Americans they had to rethink American food and Americans. In many ways living abroad made me feel more American and living in the States makes me feel more European. I notice the many European mostly Swiss things that I do.
As far as a global identity I am constantly aware of what is going on in Europe through friends and family there and feel I am in part there through my family. At least once year I return for a family visit and reconnect with the language and culture and definitely have the feeling the world is connected and what goes on in the States is no mystery to Europeans.
Viewing the States from abroad one has the feeling we live in a glass house but have no concept of that. It seems even the worst of our culture is copied, or outright exported to the point of it feeling oppressive or invasive. I was so saddened when my little niece at four when given the choice between eating a special meal at grandma's for her birthday or going to McDonald's picked McDonald's I saw the problem with globalization right there, it can replace your own culture with a far inferior imported one. The sense that we are connected shapes my beliefs and thoughts on what it is to be American and what America as an entity should and should do globally. As well I feel the need to walk more often, consume less and be more European in short less wasteful or gluttonous so my worldview is shaped by my connections to Europe and the frugality I learned living there.
Delacruz, E. M. (2012). What Asian American artists teach us about the complicated nature of
21st century Americans’ multilayered, transcultural, and hybridized identities and art
practices: Implications for an intercultural and social justice oriented approach to teaching Art. In Chung, S. K. (Ed.). Teaching Asian art (pp. 234-240). Reston, VA: National Art
Frostig, K. (2009). Transnational dialogues dealing with Holocaust legacies. In Delacruz, E. M.,
A. Arnold, M. Parsons, and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 60-67).
Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.
Knight, W. Never Again: A (K)night with Ben, (2009). Delacruz, E. M., A. Arnold, M. Parsons,
and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 68-75). Reston, VA: National Art
Kuo, C. Taiwanese Picturebooks and the Search for National Identity (2009). Delacruz, E. M., A.
Arnold, M. Parsons, and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 7-13). Reston,VA: National Art Education Association.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
The film Vanguard
What can educators take away from the recent World Conference on Indigenous
Peoples at the UN?
I began with the notion of global indigenous people, pulling in closer from the entire earth, to our continent, to my state and my community. The closest nation to me is the Gila River Nation. I visited them spoke with a few folks out there but due to tribal politics and frankly a lack of trust in outsiders (warranted of course) I was unable to film, interview, or focus on the tribe without going through a lengthy process of submission and permission through tribal elders. I instead decided to focus on the state and global aspects.
As if I conjured it up, the first Conference on Indigenous Peoples was held at the UN in September.This afforded me a specific event and topic to focus on. While researching I noticed that the UNESCO had some great maps on endangered languages and thought that was also a good visual map oriented focal point. I still followed the approach of starting globally and then thinking locally.
As it seemed the project mandated something both researched and community minded and yet somewhere in there artistic, I felt it had to have a mission and be large in scope. The crisis Indigenous folks face around the world and in our own country is dire and everyone along the line seemed to state, “yes we need more education better awareness.” So starting with the educators I know through this class I thought ok I can do a little something I can increase awareness. I also wanted to encourage the same educators to visit the UN sites think globally and use this one topic as a starting point. It is far from the only topic worth exploring on the site, but like the Spotted Owl is an indicator of a healthy forest a capstone creature, the fate of indigenous people is also a reading of the results of overpopulation, resource depletion, urban problems, environmental devastation, and globalization run amuck.
Message to my classmates
Look at your own behaviors and language do they need changing? look at your sources are they culturally sensitive? Please go to the Heard Site the UNESCO ad UN sites and use their educational materials they important and helpful resources.Art and images
A simple childlike image, a figure basking in ancient knowledge and traditions a sort of
I created a film with three small animations. The bulk of the film features edits and zooms which also act as animation or movement. It is map oriented and features somewhere in the area of 20 different maps from the Middle Ages to present. Contrasting the Middle Ages maps from ancient books and even a tapestry we get a sense for the vast ignorance of the world, and limited technology which explorers possessed. With a narrow world view often fanatical in fact, conquistadors treasure hunters and conquers stormed every continent. The ancient maps I think contrasted with the modern therefore shows the state of scientific knowledge at the time of contact. The resulting Galleon trade becomes a joining of the continents. As the wonderful books 1493 (Mann) and the Treasure Ships of the Pacific (Fish) so beautifully illustrate this was the first globalization with dire consequences for indigenous peoples worldwide.
Again childlike to fit the just so story of Columbus and the
Pilgrims, the gold rush and Manifest Destiny.
In choosing themes and images I wanted a contrast between the modern world or an industrial technological image contrasted with something organic filled with intense color. This was to state that ancient ways and ideas add color and vibrancy to the modern world. In picking the images as well there had to be a break with the stereotypic images of native people and since it was global which native people would I use? As a result I drew from Keith Herring and his every person form. Set against a field of color and surrounded by the machinery of globalization the modern world and its technology I attempted to contrast the human form.
Culture and tradition can add color to a drab world.
A simple image of a slave in chains was used to both imply that slavery happened but that indigenous peoples are incarcerated far more often than other people, one of the themes mentioned in the conference.
Indigenous people do not enjoy the same rights as others and often have no voice politically
so my figure is chained and gagged.
The conference transcripts are below in full and worth reading, the UNESCO site and UN site have a wealth of educational materials on them and I wanted to draw the classes attention to them as tools to be employed by educators. There are many maps, graphics, photos, and short educational films on these sites. The UNESCO world heritage portion presents the opportunity to inspire young minds with the absolute wonders they seek to protect and interpret.
The Heard Museum
Mann, C (2011) 1493 Vintage Press.
Fish, S. (2011) Acapulco Manila Galleons: Treasure Ships of The Pacific. Authorhouse press.
Full transcript below
21 September 2014 – The week of high-level events that marks the opening of the United Nations General Assembly's annual general debate kicks off today with the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP).
Convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the Assembly, the two-day World Conferenceis expected to draw over a thousand indigenous and non-indigenous delegates who will have the opportunity to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of their rights, including pursuing the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 2007.
Indigenous peoples represent remarkable diversity – more than 5,000 distinct groups in some 90 countries, making up more than 5 per cent of the world's population, some 370 million people. These peoples continue to self-identify as distinct peoples with strong links to traditional territories with their own social, economic and political systems as well as unique languages, cultures and beliefs.
The World Conference is expected to result in a concise, action-oriented outcome document on the implementation the rights of indigenous peoples and the promotion of the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, prepared by the President of the General Assembly on the basis of inclusive and open consultations with Member States and indigenous peoples.
Opening remarks at the Conference are expected to be delivered by General Assembly President Sam Kutesa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, among others.
The opening plenary will also include an opening ceremony involving indigenous peoples and the adoption of the World Conference outcome document.
The meetings will be co-chaired by indigenous representatives from all regions: Pacific, African and Asian, as well as Western and Eastern European, and Latin American and the Caribbean.
Opening remarks at the Conference are expected to be delivered by General Assembly President Sam Kutesa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, among others.
The opening plenary will also include an opening ceremony involving indigenous peoples and the adoption of the World Conference outcome document.
The meetings will be co-chaired by indigenous representatives from all regions: Pacific, African and Asian, as well as Western and Eastern European, and Latin American and the Caribbean.
States and corporations need to do more to prevent the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights as a result of business-related activities, a UN independent expert body said in a report to the General Assembly’s Third Committee.
“Indigenous peoples are among the groups most severely affected by the extractive, agro-industrial and energy sectors,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
“Negative effects range from indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their chosen traditional way of life, with their distinct cultural identity, to discrimination in employment and in accessing goods and services.”
Other challenges involved land use and ownership, as well as displacement through forced or economic resettlement Mr. Sulyandziga said on 29 October in his presentation of the Working Group’s report to the General Assembly’s social, humanitarian and cultural committee (Third Committee) on the adverse effects of business activities on indigenous peoples’ rights.
“Such disruption often leads to serious abuses of civil and political rights, with human rights defenders in particular put at risk,” Mr. Sulyandziga said. “Indigenous peoples are also often excluded from agreements and decision-making processes that irrevocably affect their lives.”
The report highlights how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can clarify the roles and responsibilities of States, business enterprises and indigenous peoples in addressing these problems.
“We call on States and business enterprises to increase their efforts to implement the Guiding Principles. This includes the State’s duty to protect indigenous peoples against business-related human rights abuses and corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and where abuses have occurred, to ensure people can have effective remedy,” said Mr. Sulyandziga, while urging interested parties to register for the second annual Forum on Business and Human Rights to be held in Geneva in December.
“It will be an opportunity to discuss challenges in implementing the Guiding Principles, in particular sectors, in operational environments and in relation to specific rights and groups, including indigenous peoples. It will also be a chance to identify good practices and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation toward solutions,” he added.
Deputy Secretary-General Calls Outcome Document of Indigenous Peoples World Conference ‘Our Inspiration and Path Ahead’
Following are Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s closing remarks, as delivered, at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, in New York, today:
I bring you warm greetings from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has been closely following this historic World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
The United Nations is proud to work closely with all of you and with indigenous peoples and other partners around the world to secure their rights and to address their concerns.
Let us remember the first three words of the UN Charter “We the Peoples”. Indeed, the United Nations is an intergovernmental organization. But we must never forget who we are here to serve and cooperate with, the peoples of the world.
This Conference builds on work and results since the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples seven years ago. That Declaration is our foundation and guiding star. The Conference Outcome Document is our inspiration and path ahead. Working together, indigenous peoples and Member States have identified important priorities and necessary actions on land, resources, justice systems, education, health and development.
Human rights are at the core of our efforts. I am especially pleased that the Outcome Document focuses on indigenous women, youth and persons with disabilities. I commend all of you for your tireless work and for finalizing this visionary text.
I once worked for late Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme who said that a country should be judged by how well it treats its most vulnerable and exposed peoples. We must always keep this in mind.
Today we celebrate the achievements of this unprecedented Conference. But we also remember that globally, indigenous peoples continue to lag behind on education, health, employment and, sadly, even life expectancy.
The Secretary-General and I intend to deal with these problems by building on the momentum you have generated already, which we can all sense in this room. We want to engage indigenous peoples more actively across the United Nations system.
The United Nations is now in the middle of identifying our global development priorities beyond 2015. It is essential that the issues of indigenous peoples’ are part of the new agenda. It should support their broader aspirations for sustainable development, in line with their rights and priorities.
The future we want values and preserves diversity. The future we want requires more equitable and sustainable use of the world’s resources. We need to make peace with nature. The future we want is one where all indigenous peoples realize their human rights.
The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples shows what we can do when we unite as Member States of the United Nations, but also as “We the Peoples” in the words of the Charter.
Now it is our collective responsibility — Member States, indigenous peoples, UN agencies, funds and programmes, civil society and others — to transform the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into reality. This requires determination, tenacity, political will, appropriate legal framework, and human and institutional capacities.
When we act in this spirit, we will generate global progress towards a more sustainable future and a Life of Dignity for All. Remember, nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something.
Leaders at First World Summit on Indigenous Peoples Spearhead Agreement to Bridge Gap between ‘Promises and Results’
Sixty-ninth General Assembly
4th Meeting (AM & PM)
Outcome Document Asks Secretary-General to Develop System-Wide Action Plan
Committing to further advance the rights of indigenous peoples, global leaders today called for actions that would bridge the gap between promises and results at the first-ever international conference on that disadvantaged group.
Unanimously adopting a landmark Outcome Document at the General Assembly gathering, known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Heads of State and Government, ministers and other representatives highlighted the importance of obtaining “free, prior and informed consent” from indigenous peoples on matters that affected them, including legislative measures and development projects.
The text also underscored the United Nations’ role in promoting and protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, including in the development and implementation of national action plans, strategies or other measures that affect them, in order to achieve the objectives of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Today’s Document also urged intensified efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against the most vulnerable among that population, especially people with disabilities, youth, children, women and older persons.
Further to the text, the Secretary-General was requested to begin the development of a system-wide action plan within existing resources to ensure a coherent approach to achieving the Declaration’s goals and to report to the General Assembly on the matter at its seventieth session. He was also invited, by the end of that session, to appoint a United Nations senior official, with access to the highest levels of decision-making within the system, to coordinate the action plan and raise awareness of indigenous peoples’ rights.
The Secretary-General was also asked, by that session, to report on the Outcome Document’s implementation and to make recommendations on how to use, modify and improve existing United Nations mechanisms to achieve the Declaration’s objectives, as well as ways to enhance a coherent, system-wide approach. The text also asked for specific proposals to enable the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions on issues that affected them.
Addressing the meeting prior to adoption of the text, the Secretary-General said that while meeting recently with Maori leaders in New Zealand, he was impressed by their multimillion dollar horticulture, waste management and energy production companies and how every bit of waste was fed to worms, which, in turn, created very rich organic fertilizer. That was “sustainability in action”, which could be replicated elsewhere. The Outcome Document contained commitments to actions that would bridge the gap between promises and results, he said, welcoming the direct requests made to him.
Also in opening remarks, Sam Kutesa, General Assembly President, said indigenous peoples’ issues had been a preoccupation of the United Nations for more than 30 years. The Assembly’s 2007 adoption of the Declaration represented a “global consensus” on those peoples’ rights, including that of self-determination. But with a deep chasm still separating reality from commitments, policies, and legislative actions, the Outcome Document comprised many action-oriented commitments directed towards addressing the implementation gaps.
Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, described the final document as “a road map to reposition indigenous peoples” in the United Nations agenda.
Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, noting that the fundamental principles of indigenous peoples were life, Mother Earth and peace, said that those were threatened by the capitalist system. In Bolivia, the indigenous movement was now able, not only to vote, but also govern. Climate change had become one of the most serious problems facing the planet, and the best way to fight it was to base action on the experiences of indigenous peoples, as they knew how to live in harmony with Mother Earth.
Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, spotlighted some statistics that suggested that indigenous peoples were more vulnerable to human rights violations. Developed countries had a disproportionately high percentage of indigenous people in prison, he said, noting that, in one country, indigenous children were 25 times more likely to be in detention than children elsewhere.
The Conference held two round-table discussions this afternoon on, respectively, “United Nations system action for the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples” and “implementing the rights of indigenous peoples at the national and local level”.
Also delivering statements in the opening session were Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland (on behalf of the Western European and Other Group); Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia (on behalf of the Group of Eastern European States); Henri Djombo, Minister of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development of the Congo (on behalf of the Group of African States); Oren Lyons, Jr., Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs; Aili Keskitalo, President of the Saami Parliament of Norway; Luis Evelis, Member of the Senate of Colombia; Dalee Sambo Dorough, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and Rigoberta Menchú, indigenous leader and Nobel Laureate.
Speaking after adoption of the Outcome Document were an observer for the Holy See and the representative of Canada.
Chief Sidd Hill of the Haudenosaunee opened the meeting with a traditional prayer.
The Conference will meet again tomorrow at 3 p.m. for its conclusion.
SAM KUTESA, General Assembly President, said indigenous peoples’ issues had been a preoccupation of the United Nations for more than 30 years. The General Assembly’s 2007 adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples represented a “global consensus” on those peoples’ rights, including that of self-determination.
Nevertheless, he said, a deep chasm still separated reality from commitments, policies, and legislative actions aiming to improve the lives of indigenous peoples. Today’s World Conference should serve as “a turning point” for translating the Declaration into concrete action. The carefully crafted Outcome Document, which includes a system-wide action plan to ensure coherence in efforts towards realizing the Declaration’s provisions, comprises many action-oriented commitments directed towards addressing the implementation gaps, he said, adding that Member States must make greater efforts to translate it into reality.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that today’s conference connected so much of the Organization’s critical work this week. Indigenous peoples were concerned about issues that topped the global agenda and were deeply connected to Mother Earth, whose future was at the heart of the Climate Summit opening tomorrow. Indigenous peoples were also central to human rights and global development discourse. In talks with indigenous leaders in Costa Rica, he had found that they were worried about land, resources and rights. He pledged to address the exclusion and marginalization facing indigenous peoples worldwide.
Also, while meeting with Maori leaders in New Zealand earlier in the month, he had been impressed by their multi-million dollar horticulture, waste-management and energy-production companies and how every bit of waste was fed to worms, which, in turn, created very rich organic fertilizer. That was “sustainability in action”, he said, adding that it showed what could be learned from indigenous peoples. The General Assembly had adopted the Declaration during his first year in office. That text had set minimum standards for the survival, well-being and dignity of indigenous peoples; it had also led more countries to reflect those principles in their laws and constitutions and increasingly encouraged United Nations agencies to develop specific policies.
The Outcome Document before the Assembly today contained commitments to actions that would bridge the gap between promises and results, he said, welcoming its direct requests to him, including the development of concrete proposals to enable indigenous peoples and their institutions to participate more directly in United Nations activities. He said he would also give serious consideration to a request to appoint a high-level official on indigenous peoples. Quoting a long-time indigenous activist, he said that indigenous peoples, despite many different languages spoken among their communities, were speaking one language, and their relationship to Mother Earth was identical.
EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, said that the fundamental principles of indigenous peoples were life, Mother Earth, and peace. Those tenets, however, were being threatened by the capitalist system, he said, adding that he was here today at the first official summit of the United Nations on indigenous peoples to share some experiences from his tenure in Bolivia.
In Bolivia, he said, the indigenous movement was now able not only to vote but also govern. Natural resources from Mother Earth should benefit everyone, he said, adding that in Bolivia, revenue from oil sales had doubled after the industry was nationalized. With nationalization, Bolivia had freed itself from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which had determined the country’s economic policies. Climate change had become one of the most serious problems facing the planet, he said, asserting that the best way to fight it was to base action on the experiences of indigenous peoples, who knew how to live in harmony with Mother Earth. They had learned to live in harmony and balance with the earth and believed today’s Conference should be a starting point in the process of transformation and change based on indigenous knowledge.
SAULI NIINISTÖ, President of Finland, speaking on behalf of the Western European and Other Group, said the conference marked an important step in fulfilling a key recommendation made in Alta a year ago. Indigenous peoples should have the right to participate in the United Nations in matters that concerned them. In that regard, the international community must express concern over reported attempts to prevent the representatives of indigenous people from the Russian Federation to join today’s conference. Also vital was indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making at the national level. In Finland, authorities were obliged by law to negotiate with the Saami Parliament, the legislative body representing the indigenous Saami. Recently, the Finnish Government had worked together with the Saami Parliament to expand the scope of the obligation to consult, with the proposed reform spelling out the concept of free, prior and informed consent.
He said it was also critical that indigenous youth had the rights, means and support to participate in their societies. To that end, access to education, information and means of communication were essential. In his country, Saami youth had taken significant steps to increase their participation in cultural and political activities through the establishment of a youth council. Measures to revive indigenous languages were an efficient way to strengthen the youth’s identity.
HENRI DJOMBO, Minister of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development of the Congo, speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, stressed the importance of inclusive processes on matters affecting indigenous peoples. “They are the participants and the subject,” he said, noting that they had participated actively in the preparatory processes leading up to today’s conference and made invaluable contributions to the Outcome Document. The history of indigenous peoples in Africa varied from one country to another, and the marginalized among them required special protection. African States had also participated in the preparatory processes and offered many ideas.
He said that the Declaration, upon its adoption in 2007, had received strong support from African States, and marked a victory after more than two decades of battle for indigenous peoples. More African States now recognized indigenous peoples as “first citizens”. In February 2011, his Government had also enacted a law that set standards to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The impact had been ground-breaking and tangible. That had been followed by a new action plan in 2013, which aimed to improve the lives of indigenous peoples and ensure that they enjoyed the dividends of development. The plan also ensured free, prior and informed consent on matters that affected them. “The path to equality is a long one,” he said, expressing commitment to work with the United Nations to address issues affecting marginalized indigenous peoples.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the Group of Eastern European States, said that Estonians had stood on both sides, as both an oppressed indigenous people and as members of the United Nations. It was bizarre and shameful that some States had attempted to hinder indigenous peoples from participating in the Organization’s conferences. The rights of indigenous peoples must be respected, he said, noting that the majority of States did so, but in many countries, material gains were prioritized over indigenous rights. In other words, profit was pursued at the expense of culture.
He spoke of the situation of indigenous peoples in his region, and thanked various nations for their concern, as they always sought to include indigenous peoples in their delegations. He associated himself with the statement by the President of Finland regarding the inability of the Kola Saami to participate in the meeting. The international community was obliged to do everything it could to support indigenous peoples, he said, adding, “Wherever they live, they must all be acknowledged. We must learn to listen to the voices which have been silenced too long.”
Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, pledged a permanent commitment to support indigenous peoples worldwide, applauding the 2010 General Assembly resolution that mandated the convening of today’s meeting. With a population of 45 million indigenous peoples, the Latin American and Caribbean region was linguistically diverse. His Government had actively contributed to the preparatory process and negotiations on the Outcome Document for today’s conference, and the result was a product of open, inclusive and constructive dialogue that had included the participation of indigenous peoples. Participants had made sure that the Outcome was in line with the Declaration, he said, describing the final document as “a road map to reposition indigenous peoples” in the United Nations agenda. The post-2015 development agenda must also promote indigenous peoples’ rights.
There were 5,000 distinct indigenous communities in the world, he said, urging each country to strengthen efforts to promote and protect their rights. Mexico, with a population of 15 million indigenous peoples, recognized their right to self-determination and ensured non-discrimination against them. A national policy was in place for the creation of better opportunities for them, ensuring access to education, health services, and justice. Their products and handcrafts were also promoted, and his Government had established direct dialogue with indigenous communities to define public policy.
OREN LYONS, JR., Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, greeted participants with a question about how to instruct 7 billion people on indigenous people’s relationship with the Earth. The question was fundamental to humanity’s existence, and today’s generation would make the decision as to whether the species would survive. Indigenous peoples were keepers of tradition. One from Greenland had come with a message: “The ice is melting”; thousands of feet had been lost at a pace that was accelerating.
There must be reconciliation between all groups, he said, between nations and between corporations and nature. Indigenous peoples believed in the order of the universe and the laws of creation, and that all life was bound by those tenets. Indigenous peoples had suffered for generations, but were here today to include their voices in a plea for sanity. There could be no peace as long as war was waged against the Earth, he said, urging that this crisis be addressed now, while there was still time. “And as we speak, the ice continues to melt in the north.” In conclusion, he told delegates that his speech today was the same one he had given 14 years ago, yet with the passage of time little had been done.
Aili Keskitalo, President of the Saami Parliament of Norway, said that indigenous peoples had historically been marginalized, discriminated against and ignored, but they had not lost heart. The Declaration’s adoption had been historic. Despite that milestone, the gap remained to be closed between theory and practice. The small city of Alta in the traditional Saami territory in Norway had hosted the Global Indigenous Preparatory Meeting, which had been the culmination of a process begun at the local level.
She welcomed the Outcome Document that resulted from today’s World Conference and its recognition of the need to ensure indigenous peoples’ participation at United Nations meetings on issues that affected them. Paraphrasing a Saami proverb, she said that all bad things eventually would come to an end. Adoption of the Outcome text was a “small, yet important step” towards “the dawn of the day” for indigenous peoples. The international community must persevere towards a realization of the common aspiration for human rights, justice, dignity, integrity and cultural identity.
LUIS EVELIS, Member of the Senate of Colombia, representing the Latin American and the Caribbean region on behalf of the Global Indigenous Coordinating Group, acknowledged the Alta Outcome Document in the process leading up to today’s Outcome Document, particularly the fundamental principles and aspirations of indigenous peoples. He was pleased to see many of its important provisions in the Outcome text. Those tenets conformed to the Declaration and ensured the exercise of the fundamental collective rights of indigenous peoples, especially to land, territories and resources, which underpinned their well-being, and the right to freely determine their political status and pursue economic, social and cultural development.
He stressed the need to work with Member States to establish mechanisms to ensure the implementation of the right and principle of free, prior and informed consent, particularly in the context of extractive industries and other major development projects affecting indigenous lands and territories. He requested that Member States develop national processes to harmonize policies, laws and regulations with global instruments and commitments, in the framework of the Outcome Document, and with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples.
ZEID RA’AD AL-HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that in developed countries, the percentage of indigenous people in prison was highly disproportionate to their numbers. In one country, indigenous children were 25 times more likely to be in detention than children elsewhere. In Latin America and the Caribbean, indigenous children were three times more likely to not have access to education, safe drinking water or housing. In Africa and Asia, indigenous young adults were more likely to be deprived of their right to education, especially if they were female. In the Arctic, the Pacific and South-East Asia, indigenous women were at greater risk of death during pregnancy or childbirth than women from other communities, and their newborn and young children were also more likely to die. Such stark statistics translated into thousands of human tragedies and thousands of human rights violations.
He said that the World Conference and its Outcome Document were the stepping stones that would bring the work of the international community on indigenous peoples’ rights to a new level. He called for a pledge from the world community to ensure that the human rights and dignity of all indigenous peoples were acknowledged and fully protected, in line with the Declaration. The concerns and recommendations of indigenous peoples were essential to the Climate Summit and to the upcoming World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015. Natural disasters and the effects of climate change were often borne disproportionately by indigenous peoples, whose traditional knowledge could help mitigate the consequences.
DALEE SAMBO DOROUGH, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said it was highly important to underscore not only the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, but also the need for all parties to be mindful of the pertinent international legal obligations of Member States in relation to all peoples, including indigenous peoples. She specifically emphasized the peremptory norms of international law and, in particular, the principle and right to self-determination, as affirmed by the Charter, and, among others, the international covenants and the Indigenous Peoples Declaration.
She said that consensus lost its validity if it was used to undermine the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination and good faith. Good governance became a casualty if a few States or even one State was allowed to undermine such essential rights and principles at the global level. In that regard, it was critical to recognize that indigenous peoples were among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the world. Their human rights must not be politicized or otherwise undermined by local, regional and national State interests and agendas. Rather, they must be respected and recognized. The high-level meeting should be remembered for its contribution through a principled Outcome Document, and she called upon Member States to provide support for its effective implementation and mutually agreed upon terms of cooperation within the framework of the United Nations Declaration.
Rigoberta Menchú, indigenous leader and Nobel Laureate, said that 23 years ago, she had participated in the inaugural meeting of the working group on indigenous peoples. Thanks to that group, progress had been made in discussions on the rights of indigenous peoples. Since then, the United Nations had seen thousands of delegates come and go on the lead-up to the creation of the Permanent Forum. Progress was being made in the area of indigenous peoples’ rights, she said, expressing her full support for the adoption of today’s Outcome Document. The text would strengthen the action plans as well relationships among nations and nation-States.
She said that many young people and children were suffering daily from the effects of violence in their communities, in attempts to protect their land and seas. For indigenous people, peace was listening to various opinions, because “we are all part of one diversity.” Over the course of the 34 years she had been linked to the United Nations, she said she had seen progress, but also frustration. Indigenous people still lack basic services and rights, and if they were to achieve their freedom and self-determination, then all international standards must lead to dignified policies at the national level. She paid tribute to other speakers and to all the young people participating in today’s meeting.
Following the opening statements, the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution titled, “Outcome document of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples”.
Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Holy Seeexpressed his delegation’s reservation on language regarding reproductive rights in operative paragraph 13.
The representative of Canada said her delegation would table a short statement to explain its position and record some concerns.
Round Table Discussion I
Ghazali Ohorella, Representative of the Pacific Indigenous Region and Edita Hrda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic co-chaired the panel discussion, titled “United Nations system action for the implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. Panellists were Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and Atencio Lopez, Representative of the Central and South America and the Caribbean Indigenous Region.
Ms. HRDA commended efforts by Member States and representatives of indigenous peoples for having reached agreement on an outcome document. The text represented a further step in the United Nations system in implementing its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he said.
Mr. OHORELLA emphasized the important contribution to that text made by the preparatory meeting held in July 2013 in Alta, Norway. The conference had found a realistic approach to be implemented at the national level. Indigenous people had come a long way to see the Outcome text, which they had once thought impossible. But there existed the gap between commitments and results.
Dr. NWANZE said his agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), took indigenous peoples seriously. They made up 5 per cent, or 370 million, of the world’s population. They had struggled to preserve their identities, cultures and lands and had been neglected in the development process. Their social and economic empowerment was vital to sustainable development and the creation of thriving communities. Any global development agenda that ignored indigenous peoples was a “hollow exercise”.
Policy did not mean anything unless it was matched with financial resources, he said, adding, “Let’s put money where the mouth is”. His agency was providing $1.8 billion in loans to benefit indigenous peoples, and had set up the Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility and created an indigenous peoples’ forum within the agency, which kept IFAD accountable, relevant and effective. IFAD also had an internal fund to enable indigenous peoples to participate in this Conference. Moreover, it supported the mainstreaming of indigenous peoples in sustainable development goals. They had much to teach about ways to not jeopardize future generations.
Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ said that indigenous concerns had become a cross-cutting issue in the United Nations system, acknowledging the role of the Permanent Forum. Indigenous peoples’ interests were multifaceted, ranging from peace and security to human rights and the environment. Indigenous peoples suffered equally from global problems, he said, urging the United Nations to take a more coherent approach to addressing the issues that affected them, including human rights violations so as to avoid marginalization in the development agenda. Millennium Development Goals did not include indigenous peoples. Unless United Nations actions were better coordinated, indigenous issues would always fall in the cracks.
She was happy to see paragraphs in the Outcome Document that requested the Secretary-General to take specific actions, including the development of a system-wide action plan to ensure a coherent approach to achieving the goals of the Declaration. Also welcome had been the call to appoint a senior official for coordinating the action plan and raising awareness of the rights of indigenous peoples. The Secretary-General also had been asked to submit recommendations on how to use, modify and improve existing United Nations mechanisms to achieve the Declaration’s objectives, as well as ways to enhance a coherent, system-wide approach. Regarding the monitoring implementation, she proposed that the United Nations hire more staff dedicated to implementing policy, and performance indicators should measure the number of those staff. The senior official to be appointed should consult with indigenous peoples, she said, calling for an increase in dedicated resources to support the implementation of indigenous policy.
Mr. LOPEZ commended the Outcome Document as something that indigenous peoples had dreamed about for a long time. But he regretted that it had taken too long; many of his predecessors had already passed away without seeing the outcome. After the Second World War, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly, but the rights of indigenous peoples had not been respected. They had to remain vocal about their problems because they were not the ones that implemented policies. A great deal remained to be done. Indigenous issues, now cross-cutting, required the engagement of many United Nations agencies.
The Outcome Document, he said, reaffirmed the solemn commitment to respect, promote and advance indigenous peoples’ rights and uphold the principles of the Declaration. But regrettably, the text had received a “frosty” reception in some parts of Latin America. United Nations agencies should assume responsibility to implement the outcome by setting up funds to enable the participation of indigenous peoples in processes that affected them. The United Nations should be a facilitator with full participation of indigenous representatives. He recommended the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Within the United Nations system, he liked to see an “Indigenous Ambassador”.
When the floor opened for discussion, LUIS ALMAGRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said his country was homogenous but respected all ethnic minorities. To that end, a census had been conducted to recognize minorities and reaffirm their rights.
The representative of the Asia Caucus said that the Secretary-General should appoint an indigenous individual as a senior official on indigenous peoples, at a level not lower than that of Under-Secretary-General.
The representative of the European Union Delegation hailed the Outcome Document as being inclusive and thus having broad ownership. Coherent United Nations actions were vital and the Union, for its part, was reviewing its policies accordingly.
ISABEL SAINT MALO DE ALVARADO, Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Panama, said the country had five preservation areas for indigenous peoples, which encompassed 28 per cent of national territory. Her Government had not ratified International Labour Organization Convention No. 169, but it recognized indigenous peoples in that context.
The representative of National Indigenous Women’s Federation of Nepal urged each United Nations agency to develop or revise its indigenous peoples policy and develop implementation guidelines and performance indicators to make those fully compatible with the Declaration.
The representative of the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples Issues said that in addition to its work at the international level, country-specific dialogue between United Nations country teams, Governments and indigenous peoples was essential. The United Nations Development Group Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues was a tool to mainstream and integrate their issues in operational activities and programmes at the country level.
Also delivering statements were speakers representing Pakistan, Spain, Hungary, France, United States, Viet Nam and Argentina.
The representatives of the following United Nations entities and observers also spoke: the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).
Also taking the floor were speakers representing the Arctic Caucus, Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, Cherokee Nation, Chief of the Chakma Circle, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People, the Chickasaw Nation, Pacific Caucus, National Native Title Council, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Navajo Nation, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in Canada (COTTFN), International Indian Treaty Council, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Pacific Disability Forum (Nepal Indigenous Disabled Association), Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Assyrian Universal Alliance, Americas Chapter, and Kalipunan ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas.
Round Table Discussion II
David Choquehuanca, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bolivia and Joseph Ole Simmel, representative of the African Indigenous Region, co-chaired the panel on “Implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples at the national and local level”. Panellists were James Anaya, former Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Soyata Maiga, Commissioner, African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.
Mr. ANAYA said the most formidable obstacle to fully implementing the indigenous peoples’ rights was ignorance — ignorance among the broader societies and political elites in the countries in which indigenous people lived. That ignorance was manifested and perpetuated by mainstream media and popular stereotypes, which depicted indigenous peoples as relics of the past amid images of savagery or subjects of curiosity and romanticism. As an example, he pointed to the pejorative use of the name “Redskins”, which is a United States-based professional football team. Perhaps the greatest contributor to the widespread ignorance were mainstream educational systems, wherein the study of history regarded colonial and settler patterns as triumphant precursors to modern States, with little attention to the devastating consequences of those patterns for indigenous peoples in both the past and the present. Instead, indigenous peoples had been cast into the roles of the savage or backward foe, of an obstacle to be overcome, or, alternatively, as the unwitting noble savage destined to succumb to modernity.
While the Outcome Document adopted by consensus in the morning renewed Member States’ affirmation of the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration, he stressed that the commitment to implementing those rights must be accompanied by programmes in education and awareness-raising geared towards all of society. Indigenous issues and realities must be mainstreamed into primary and secondary educational systems, he stressed. Additionally, the media should be encouraged, and should itself adopt specific programmes, to become educated about indigenous peoples in relation to contemporary events. Government authorities should be made aware of how their functions impacted and should impact on indigenous peoples. Finally, indigenous peoples should be invited to contribute to such educational and awareness-raising efforts in the spirit of reconciliation, partnership and commitment to the human rights of all, as represented in the Declaration.
Ms. MAIGA said that stereotypes of indigenous peoples’ behaviour had unfortunately contributed to discrimination against them. Their resources were taken from them, they suffered from inadequate access to social services, among many other injustices. The international community and the United Nations had alerted the world to that situation. Regionally, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights had been working tirelessly to undertake missions to enable Governments to interact with indigenous communities. Their mandate was to receive complaints of human rights violations, and these efforts had begun to yield fruit.
There were now policies and good practices in several countries, she said, adding that the Commission had cultural initiatives covering indigenous peoples throughout Africa. Niger, for example, had recognized the rights of pastoral communities. The Commission also referred to past injustices, she said, noting the importance of the Conference. The assembled delegates, she said, were now the ones called upon to make the Outcome Document a living document, to show how the United Nations could be used to identify the requisite resources, to enable indigenous peoples to enjoy the fruits of their own labour.
In the discussion that followed, the representative of the Indigenous Caucus of the Arctic highlighted a prophecy in her country, which said that a spider’s web would eventually cover the Earth. “Think of the Internet today,” she explained. Using the situation of her own group, she said that Inuit rights were being recognized in Canada, but that aboriginal treaty signatories were often left with no choice but to turn to the courts. Indigenous peoples in Canada tried to get the Government to implement a modern treaty, which met their goals. Self-determination, she said, was a process of incremental change.
The representative of Denmark said his country had advanced indigenous rights and a long-term strategy for the Arctic. He then ceded the speaker’s seat to the representative of Greenland, who listed important ways in which Greenland exercised its self-determination. Her country, however, still had serious social problems, including erosion of traditional values, she added.
The representative of the Caucus of Latin America and the Caribbean, noting that States still had reservations with respect to interpretation of laws and reforms, said legislation should apply uniformly to all inhabitants of a country and not favour one sector only. Further, she proposed that legal systems of indigenous people be recognized by Member States.
New Zealand’s representative said his country had developed its own unique approaches to support Maori to achieve their full potential. Central to its approach and relationship with Maori was respect for indigenous peoples’ rights, underpinned by the principle of partnership. The Waitangi Tribunal was a mechanism for inquiry into historical grievances, as well as contemporary issues relating to the Crown’s treaty relationship with iwi and Maori communities. Significant progress had been made and completion of treaty settlements was more than halfway through, which typically included a Crown apology for historical wrongs and restitution of traditionally held lands and resources, thereby strengthening the partnerships between iwi and the Government.
The representative of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance said that in his nation, collective rights to ancestral lands, territories and resources continued to be violated as State military forces were deployed in their communities to protect “destructive projects and corporate plunder”. He called for a resumption of peace talks between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to “address the root causes of the armed conflict towards a just and lasting peace”.
Guyana ’s representative said that her country was firmly committed to the advancement of indigenous peoples. Guyana was among the few countries to have enacted legislation to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples, including land rights. Indigenous leaders held leadership positions at national and local levels of Government in her country, she said, adding that those achievements could only have been accomplished through a strong partnership with indigenous peoples.
Also participating in the discussion were representatives of Ecuador, South Africa, Nigeria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Brazil, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Namibia, Suriname, Indonesia and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as well as representatives of major civil society organizations.