UNESCO 36th General Conference

Knowledge Systems, Knowledge Diversity, Knowledge Societies: Towards a UNESCO Policy on Engaging with Indigenous Peoples

10 November 2011

In the framework of the 10th Anniversary of the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity and to mark the Celebration of World Science Day 2011 for Peace and Development, UNESCO is organizing a Side Event on 10 November from 1:20 to 3:00 PM in Room IX.

The event, hosted by Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO and co-chaired by Ms Gretchen Kalonji, Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences and Ms Pilar Alvarez-Laso, Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences, will feature indigenous spokespersons at the highest-level from the three foremost UN institutions dealing with the rights of Indigenous Peoples: Mr James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms Myrna Cunningham, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Mr. Vital Bambanze, Chair, UN Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples.

UNESCO has broad mandates in the fields of education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information. Its policies, programmes and projects provide opportunities and have significant impacts (positive and negative) for indigenous peoples worldwide. Today, policy frameworks and standards for human rights and development are evolving rapidly. In particular, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007, while in 2008 the UN Development Group (UNDG) issued the UNDG Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues. Indigenous peoples, governments and other actors legitimately demand that UN agencies take clear policy positions in relation to indigenous peoples’ rights and issues as they relate to their respective mandates. UNESCO will similarly embark on a process to elaborate a house-wide policy on engaging with Indigenous Peoples. This event launches UNESCO’s work on developing such a policy.

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