DIRECTOR-GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON
THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
Paris, August 6 (No.2001-85) -
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has issued the following message on
the occasion of the International Day of Indigenous People:
“The world has some 300
million indigenous people living in more than 70 countries, on all continents,
and representing more than 5,000 languages and cultures.
“By proclaiming, in 1994, the
International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People and by deciding that an
International Day would be dedicated to them on 9 August of every year, the
United Nations General Assembly wished to remind us that we have a duty of
vigilance and solidarity towards these people - a duty whose accomplishment will
certainly affect our common future. Indeed, indigenous people symbolize the
cultural diversity which is humanity’s greatest treasure.
“Now in 2001, the United
Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, during which the World Conference
against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance will
be held, I call upon all governments to celebrate this International Day at
national level and would like to recall, on this occasion, the spirit in which
UNESCO is contributing to the Decade as part of its mission.
“Any development strategy
must preserve the values inherent in each culture, while upholding the
indivisible rights of the individual. In addition, people’s aspirations must
be taken into consideration at the institutional level with a view to achieving
genuine pluralism, the aim of all democratic systems.
“The challenge is to devise
frameworks within which development can foster integration and institutions can
ensure a place for all. In this context, the value systems and the institutions
of indigenous people must be safeguarded, together with the wealth of the
traditional knowledge they have amassed about their environment, in particular
through appropriate education systems.
“UNESCO intends to pursue its
action in support of indigenous people, founding it on an overall conception of
sustainable development and the strengthening of the ties between tradition and
modernity. The new information and communication technologies must help to
promote and give greater visibility to living indigenous cultures. Traditional
knowledge, the tangible heritage and, especially, the intangible heritage -
which are a legacy of the past and remain the essential repositories of identity
and memory - also carry within them development solutions for the future.
“The year 2001 must therefore
be an occasion for the redoubling of efforts to ensure that the globalization
process under way shows greater respect for the concerns, interests and actual
circumstances of indigenous people. For they have an invaluable contribution to
make to the society of the future.”