NEW YORK, United States of America, 4 June 2013 – The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is the most advanced Declaration on indigenous peoples’ rights, and its adoption in 2007 was the result of many years of work.
In order to help indigenous young people become more acquainted with the Declaration’s provisions, UNICEF – in collaboration with the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus – developed an adolescent-friendly version of UNDRIP. This new publication was launched in New York on 22 May 2013 in collaboration with the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations and Plan International.
Christian Salazar, Deputy Director of UNICEF’s Programme Division, welcomed participants, noting that the Declaration together with the Convention on the Rights of the Child represent powerful tools with which indigenous young people can advocate for their rights. Grand Chief Edward John and Álvaro Pop, both members of UNPFII, each gave an introductory address and provided words of encouragement.
|A distinguished panel had a lively and constructive dialogue on how the adolescent-friendly version of the Declaration will be used as a sustainable tool for intellectual, as well as spiritual, development.|
Indigenous youth leaders then entered into a lively and constructive dialogue on how the adolescent-friendly version of the Declaration will be used as a sustainable tool for intellectual, as well as spiritual, development. The discussion was led by moderator and Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator of the Native Youth and Sexual Health Network Krysta Williams. She was joined by discussants Co-Chair of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus Tuomas Aslak Juuso, María Cecibel Cisneros, an indigenous youth community leader from Peru, Gabriele Papa, of the Salamanca High School Model Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Latin America Focal Point of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus Dalí Ángel Pérez.
What motivates the panellists
Panellists were asked why they became involved in human rights work. Dalí Ángel Pérez noted that after seeing her adult family members face violations of their rights, she was determined to be an agent of change, particularly among the youth of her community. María Cecibel Cisneros mentioned the loss of indigenous identities resulting from rural-to-urban migration and forced migration, and her desire to help indigenous peoples fully appreciate the importance of their culture. Tuomas Aslak Juuso, who was elected to the Sámi parliament of Finland in 2008, where, at that time, he was its youngest member in history, emphasized the importance of starting engagement at a young age.
The panel agreed that the language of the adolescent-friendly UNDRIP is extremely helpful, and clarifies the challenging United Nations terminology for a younger audience. Gabriele Papa noted how helpful the publication has been to her, recalling that, when she first read the regular version of the Declaration, its content felt as though it was meant not to make sense to a young person.
|A member of the audience refers to the publication. It was suggested that it become part of standard curricula, and that it be widely circulated within indigenous networks, organizations and youth institutions.|
Spreading knowledge, in all languages
In moving forward with the adolescent-friendly UNDRIP, panellists strongly emphasized the need for its translation into indigenous languages, as well as Spanish and Portuguese. The group was delighted to welcome a representative of GÁLDU (Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) to the event, who presented the first two translated versions of the publication: one in Northern Sami language, and the other in Norwegian.
Panellists agreed that it is essential to spread knowledge of the adolescent-friendly UNDRIP within indigenous and non-indigenous communities through the use of various forms of media, including radio. It was suggested that the publication become part of standard school curricula, and that it be widely circulated within indigenous networks, organizations and youth institutions.
As Ms. Williams noted in her closing remarks, the launch event marks just the beginning of increased efforts to help indigenous young people become more knowledgeable on the Declaration, so that they are better equipped to secure their rights.