“WORKING FOR THE RIGHTS AND RECOGNITION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES"
UN-BACKED INFORMATION SUMMIT CALLED ON TO HELP PROGRESS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES,
New York, Dec 11 2003
Indigenous people today called on a United Nations-backed global information summit to put information and communications technologies (ICTs) into the service of economic and social development in their communities around the world.
The call came in a declaration and action programme adopted at the conclusion of the Global Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society this week in Geneva, one of three official side events to the World Summit on the Information Society <"www.itu.int/wsis/index.html ">(WSIS). The text will be officially transmitted to the Summit tomorrow by Ole-Henrik Magga, Chairperson of the <"/esa/socdev/pfii/">UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
"This Global Forum is a chance for indigenous people to become engaged with the World Summit on the Information Society. By discussing opportunities and challenges facing people around the world, we are creating solutions that will help indigenous peoples move forward in meaningful ways," Mr. Magga said at a press briefing.
The Global Forum, which began Monday, addressed topics ranging from e-health, e-learning, cultural preservation through digital media and citizen empowerment. It identified many challenges, including a lack of resources as well as a lack of control most indigenous peoples experience in terms of having to adapt to a new technology rather than being able to adjust the technology to suit their needs.
The meeting also agreed that indigenous peoples should play a part in the preparatory process for the second phase of the Summit in 2005 in Tunis, and win concrete results at that conference, after having been given short notice to prepare for and participate in the Geneva phase.
"The value of information technology becomes most apparent when we examine how it is benefiting indigenous communities, particularly those in remote locations," Mr. Magga said. "Indigenous peoples are keen to preserve and pass on the examining the new tools of the information society to see how they can assist."
Joining Mr. Magga was Mililani Trask, a member of the Permanent Forum, who lamented the decision by the Member States to delete references in the Summit's draft Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action to such issues as the protection of indigenous peoples' rights and the preservation of cultural diversity and language.
The Secretariat for the UN Permanent Forum assists the 16-member panel in carrying out its mandate, which covers economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. It provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and to UN programmes, funds and agencies, and helps to raise awareness of indigenous issues within the UN system.