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Report of the international expert group meeting on indigenous ...

Report of the international expert group meeting on indigenous ...

E/C.19/2008/3 4 United

E/C.19/2008/3 4 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was elected Rapporteur. E. Adoption ong>ofong> ong>theong> conclusions and recommendations 8. On 10 January 2008, ong>theong> workshop adopted, by consensus, ong>theong> conclusions and recommendations contained in section III below. The workshop decided to annex to ong>theong> present report a poem written in ong>theong> Evenk language and translated into Russian (see annex V). F. Closure ong>ofong> ong>theong> workshop 9. The ong>meetingong> was closed after ong>theong> conclusions and recommendations were adopted in ong>theong> final ong>meetingong>, held on 10 January 2008. III. Conclusions and recommendations A. Overview 10. The ong>meetingong> took note ong>ofong> ong>theong> richness ong>ofong> ong>theong> written contributions ong>ofong> ong>theong> ong>meetingong>, as well as ong>theong> oral interventions that were delivered and ong>theong> many examples ong>ofong> good practices that were presented. 11. Indigenous peoples and ong>theong>ir languages are threatened around ong>theong> world. The loss ong>ofong> indigenous languages signifies not only ong>theong> loss ong>ofong> traditional knowledge but also ong>theong> loss ong>ofong> cultural diversity and spirituality. Dire as this situation is, ong>theong>re is a lack ong>ofong> awareness on ong>theong> part ong>ofong> some Governments, indigenous peoples and ong>theong> intergovernmental system ong>ofong> ong>theong> urgency for policy measures to reverse this trend. 12. Neverong>theong>less, ong>theong> ong>internationalong> community has prepared a solid ong>internationalong> legal normative framework that is relevant for ong>theong> protection ong>ofong> indigenous languages, ong>ofong> which ong>theong> most recent one is ong>theong> newly adopted United Nations Declaration on ong>theong> Rights ong>ofong> Indigenous Peoples. A list ong>ofong> ong>theong>se instruments is available in annex IV. 13. Indigenous languages are treasures ong>ofong> vast traditional knowledge concerning ecological systems and processes and how to protect and use some ong>ofong> ong>theong> most vulnerable and biologically diverse ecosystems in ong>theong> world. It is no coincidence that ong>theong> areas where indigenous peoples live are ong>theong> areas that contain ong>theong> greatest biological diversity. In fact, biological, linguistic and cultural diversity are inseparable and mutually reinforcing, so when an indigenous language is lost, so too is ong>theong> traditional knowledge for how to maintain aspects ong>ofong> ong>theong> world’s biological diversity. The protection ong>ofong> indigenous languages is ong>theong>refore not only a cultural and moral imperative, but an important aspect ong>ofong> global efforts to address biodiversity loss, climate change and oong>theong>r environmental challenges. 14. Language rights must be implemented as a collective and an individual right. It is crucial to recognize that indigenous peoples’ language rights include, but are not limited to: (a) The right to maintain and to use ong>theong>ir own language; 08-21356

08-21356 (b) The right to have indigenous languages recognized in constitutions and laws; (c) The right to maintain personal names, place names and ong>theong> proper names ong>ofong> ong>theong>ir languages; (d) The right to be educated in ong>theong> moong>theong>r tongue (eiong>theong>r in State schools or in ong>theong>ir own schools); (e) The right to use indigenous languages in court and administrative proceedings; (f) The right to non-discrimination on ong>theong> grounds ong>ofong> language in such domains as work, social security, health, family life, education, cultural life and freedom ong>ofong> speech; (g) The right to take part in public affairs and public service without discrimination on ong>theong> grounds ong>ofong> language; (h) The right to establish indigenous media in indigenous languages as well as to have access to mainstream media in indigenous languages. B. Examples ong>ofong> good practices 15. The ong>meetingong> was presented with a number ong>ofong> examples ong>ofong> good practices ranging from university programmes to children’s centres to political movements. As diverse as ong>theong>se examples were, ong>theong>y all illustrated ong>theong> importance ong>ofong> indigenous peoples’ agency, while also emphasizing ong>theong> crucial role that ong>theong> State and oong>theong>r parties play. For example, efforts to promote newspapers, community radio, song, dance and poetry and oong>theong>r literature in indigenous languages are beneficial. It is also seen as a positive step when institutions ong>ofong> higher education use indigenous languages, while translations ong>ofong> literary works into indigenous languages serve to strengong>theong>n ong>theong> language. 16. Initiatives that have proved beneficial to ong>theong> strengong>theong>ning ong>ofong> indigenous languages are government-appointed language committees, such as in Greenland. Those committees can develop normative or standardized usage ong>ofong> ong>theong> language in ong>theong> contexts ong>ofong> education, communication and legislation. 17. Oong>theong>r positive initiatives involve translation ong>ofong> relevant laws and important political texts into indigenous languages so that indigenous peoples can better participate in ong>theong> political sphere. It is important to translate legal texts into indigenous languages and use ong>theong>m in legal proceedings. There are also positive examples ong>ofong> school boards, health care systems, and corporations that have developed a process ong>ofong> involving indigenous language in ong>theong> legislative procedures. 18. It is essential to include indigenous languages and cultures into early childhood care and education curriculum, and promote multilingualism, as is ong>theong> case in Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia. The early childhood centres described at ong>theong> ong>meetingong> prepare children to enter government primary schools and also strengong>theong>n ong>theong>ir foundation to understand ong>theong>ir own languages and practice ong>theong>ir own cultures. 19. An example from Australia emphasized ong>theong> importance ong>ofong> indigenous teachers’ developing ong>theong>ir own language programmes, ong>theong>ir own educational material and ong>theong> use ong>ofong> indigenous languages in ong>theong> media and in publications. E/C.19/2008/3 5

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