United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Director-General pays tribute to the approval of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, has issued a message on the occasion of the approval of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly at its 62nd Session.

Mr Matsuura welcomed the General Assembly’s approval of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and declared that it is “a milestone for indigenous peoples and all those who are committed to the protection and promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.” He went on to state that “the Declaration acknowledges the significant place that indigenous cultures occupy in the world’s cultural landscape and their vital contribution to our rich cultural diversity, which constitutes, as the text's preamble reminds us, ‘the common heritage of humankind.’”

In his message, the Director-General recalled that “the newly adopted Declaration echoes the principles of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001) and the related UNESCO Conventions, notably the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, all of which recognize the pivotal role of indigenous peoples as custodians of cultural diversity and biodiversity, embodied in the cultural and natural heritage.”

Mr Matsuura underscored that “UNESCO is pleased to note that this Declaration sets promising international standards for the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples within the larger human rights framework and, more specifically, highlights their rights related to culture, identity, language and education.”

In conclusion the Director-General expressed UNESCO’s hopes that this Declaration serves as “a platform for genuine dialogue between indigenous and non-indigenous partners, creating a better understanding of indigenous worldviews and cultures which, in order to flourish, must be expressed and shared through intercultural dialogue between generations, cultures and civilizations, as well as between indigenous peoples, societies and States at large. The principles of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue are the main guarantees of a common sustainable future.”

“The adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples thus marks a significant landmark in the process of promoting mutual understanding and development, ‘understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence’ (Art. 3, UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2001),” he added.

Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 125-2007 -  Publication Date: 02-10-2007

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