New York

9 August 2012

Secretary-General's remarks on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

I am delighted to be with you again.

A little over a month ago I was in Brazil for the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.

I met with representatives of the People’s Summit, including indigenous peoples.

They spoke to me frankly about their concerns: about the green economy… about land ownership… and about governments and big business treating natural common assets as commodities, losing all sight of their deeper significance.

I listened carefully and I emphasized that sustainable development is about people – all people. 

There can be no development for indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent and without them being involved in every step. 

These fundamental principles are enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.   

Being involved and being heard means being able to communicate.

In the five years since the Declaration was adopted, indigenous communities and individuals have been taking advantage of traditional and new media to tell their story and make their voices heard.

They are using community radio and television… they are making video art, feature films and documentaries.

From newspapers to the internet and social media, indigenous peoples are challenging mainstream narratives, bringing human rights violations to international attention and forging global solidarity. 

By developing their own media, indigenous peoples are able to reflect their own values and fight myths and misconceptions. 

Compelling stories tell of continuing struggles to overcome centuries of injustice and discrimination… of peoples standing firm for the resources and rights that will preserve cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions. 

These stories are in themselves a valuable resource for us all.  They offer an alternative perspective on development models that often exclude the indigenous experience. 

And 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 collaborate with indigenous peoples, including their media, to promote the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

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. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you a productive meeting.

Thank you very much.