International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples / Nagasaki Day

August 8, 2012 at 10:41pm

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<p></p><p></p><p> </p>9 August 2012

 

Today is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, a day to celebrate the triumph of indigenous peoples' survival in the face of centuries of genocide, atrocity, dispossession and loss, and a day of hope for a better future.

 

The theme of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples this year is "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices", and an interactive dialogue to mark the Day at the UN Headquarters in New York from  2.30pm to 6pm on Thursday, 9 August (EDT) will be broadcast live -  you can watch the broadcast at http://webtv.un.org starting at 6.30am, Friday 10 August here in Aotearoa. The programme for the dialogue is available at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/int_day_12_programme.pdf

 

9 August is also Nagasaki Day, this year marking the 67th commemoration of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, just three days after the city of Hiroshima was obliterated on 6 August 1945. The coincidence of Nagasaki Day and the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is a reminder that all "testing" of nuclear weapons has taken place on indigenous peoples' land - the detonation of more than 2,000 nuclear warheads in the atmosphere, on land and in the sea throughout the Pacific, in the US, northern Africa, India, Pakistan, and at the nuclear test sites of the former Soviet Union and China has resulted in irreparable and extensive contamination of the territories of affected indigenous peoples, turning their homelands and food gathering areas into radioactive wastelands, in appalling damage to their health, and irreversible harm to their genetic heritage.

 

 

And as the joint statement from the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (copied below) reminds us, another devastating form of colonisation - the activities of extractive industries on or near indigenous peoples' territories - has created some of the most pressing issues facing indigenous peoples globally today.

 

Media plays vital role in empowering indigenous rights

 

 

Joint statement by UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

 

8 August 2012

 

In light of this year's theme "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices", the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, have stressed the vital role that media can play in the respect for, and the promotion and protection of, indigenous peoples' rights.

 

The right of indigenous peoples to establish their own media in their own languages is a key right in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  (article 16). The Expert Mechanism, in its 2012 study on indigenous peoples' languages and cultures, highlights that media can be an essential tool for the revitalisation of indigenous languages, especially in the education of indigenous children.

 

The Special Rapporteur, James Anaya, has similarly emphasized the importance of media for maintaining indigenous languages as well as for exercising and defending indigenous peoples' rights. Indigenous media can reduce the marginalisation and misinterpretation of indigenous voices, which has been detrimental to their attempts to secure an understanding of, and respect for, their rights within the broader societies in which they live.

 

Indigenous peoples are increasingly using the media and social networks to raise awareness about and to defend rights that are threatened by a variety of activities, especially, in the experts' experience, activities related to extractive industries taking place in or near indigenous peoples' traditional territories. Actions on the part of indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, and other advocates have increasingly helped to draw attention to the devastating impacts that many of these activities have had or could have on indigenous peoples.

 

 

The Expert Mechanism and the Special Rapporteur noted that extractive industries active on or near indigenous peoples' territories have created some of the most pressing issues facing indigenous peoples globally today.

 

The Chairperson of the Expert Mechanism, Chief Wilton Littlechild, noted "the need for all parties, including business, to ensure that extractive activities which can impact on indigenous peoples, their communities and their lands, territories and resources do not commence without the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in associated decision making."

 

The Special Rapporteur also emphasized "the need for an approach regarding extractive industries that comprehensively takes account of the primary substantive rights that may be affected by potential projects, including rights to property, culture, religion, health, physical well-being and the right to set and pursue their own priorities for development as part of their fundamental right to self-determination."

 

Mr. Anaya stressed that consultation and consent, along with other safeguard mechanisms, including impact assessments, mitigation measures and compensation or benefit-sharing, are essential to protecting indigenous peoples' rights when natural resource extraction activites may affect those rights.

 

 

UN Secretary-General's Message for 2012<p> </p><p></p><p></p>On this International Day, I pledge the full support of the UN system to cooperate with indigenous peoples, including their media, to promote the full implementation of the Declaration.<p> </p><p></p><p></p>In the five years since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, communities and individuals have been taking advantage of the reach of traditional and new media to tell their story and make their voices heard.

 

The focus of this year's International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices". From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity. They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions.

 

Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions. They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience. They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice.

 

On this International Day, I pledge the full support of the UN system to cooperate with indigenous peoples, including their media, to promote the full implementation of the Declaration. I also call on Member States and the mainstream media to create and maintain opportunities for indigenous peoples to articulate their perspectives, priorities and aspirations.

 

Let us use the media - indigenous and non-indigenous, and especially new outlets - to create bridges and establish a truly intercultural world, where diversity is celebrated; a world where different cultures not only coexist but value each other for their contributions and potential.

 

More information on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is available at http://www.un.org/en/events/indigenousday and http://social.un.org/index/IndigenousPeoples/InternationalDay/2012.aspx 

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