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MOST Programme - Multiculturalism: A Policy Response to Diversity
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Management Of Social Transformations - MOST
© UNESCO 1995


    Paper prepared on the occasion of the
    "1995 Global Cultural Diversity Conference", 26-28 April 1995, and the
    "MOST Pacific Sub-Regional Consultation", 28-29 April 1995,
    both in Sydney, Australia


ANNEX I - Activities on the Cultural Rights of Persons Belonging to Minorities and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within UNESCO´s Fields of Competence

ANNEX II - Selective list of UNESCO's Normative Instruments in the field of Cultural Rights


This paper is about coping with the management of ethnic and cultural diversity through policies which promote ethnic and cultural minority groups' participation in, and access to the resources of society, while maintaining the unity of the country. That diversity characterizes the great majority of the countries in the world, and that with the end of the cold war and bilateral international order, identitarian claims of ethnic, religious and cultural varieties are becoming stronger, are well-known facts. Such developments, which sometimes lead to conflictual situations and tragedies such as in Bosnia and Rwanda, seriously challenge the States, which respond to it through different policies, which range from assimilationism and integrationism, to differentialism. The latter, not always intentionally conceived, involves indirect exclusion, implicit in cultural and institutional practices and active exclusion, which may go as far as apartheid and even genocide [Gamson, 1995]. Multiculturalism lies in between, is one policy response for coping with diversity in society. The analysis offered here takes an indepth look at multiculturalist policies and assesses the benefits and limitations of such an approach.

Multiculturalism, as a systematic and comprehensive response to cultural and ethnic diversity, with educational, linguistic, economic and social components and specific institutional mechanisms, has been adopted by Australia and Canada. The Australian multicultural policy is given special attention here for two reasons: firstly, it constitutes an extensive effort to cope democratically with diversity, developed in the very short time-span of two decades, against the earlier, long-standing assimiliationist, and later integrationist, tradition. Secondly, this policy is founded on a civic and contractual definition of citizenship, rather than on ethnic and cultural communitarianism, a feature which is crucial for avoiding conflicts and reconciling diversity with societal cohesion. This means that while ethnic and cultural specificities are respected, they are to be subsumed under the Constitution, the democratic system, the use of a national language (two in the case of Canada) and certain norms, such as individual rights, social equity and gender equality, which prevail in the country. It is only natural that Canada, as the society which devised the term multiculturalism, is also given special attention. Understandably, multiculturalism as one model of a democratic policy response to cultural and ethnic diversity is of interest to UNESCO, in so far as it corresponds to the ideal of a culture of peace, based on respect of diversity, as well as universally shared values and norms. As regards the latter, the Preamble of the Constitution of UNESCO accords a high value to "the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind", as the basis for domestic and international peace. On diversity, the following words of the French anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss (1952), epitomize the spirit of UNESCO's approach:

" The diversity of cultures is behind us, before us and all around us. The only demand we can make of it .... is that it take forms that each make a contribution to the utmost generosity of other people."

This paper, prepared in the framework of UNESCO's Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme on the occasion of the "1995 Global Cultural Diversity Conference", 26-28 April 1995, and the "MOST Pacific Sub-Regional Consultation" 28-29 April 1995, both in Sydney, Australia, benefited from several valuable contributions. We are particularly indebted to Michael Banton, Christine Inglis, Atieno Odhiambo and William Safran, who provided us with their analyses and views in texts especially written on this occasion. Another source of information and analyses was a paper, previously presented in a UNESCO meeting by Nestor Garcia Canclini. Additionally, we are grateful to Stephen Castles for his thoughtful comments. We also drew on additional expertise available at UNESCO, especially from the education and communication programmes, but final responsibility for the text, and for any shortcomings, is ours. Furthermore, the analyses proposed here do not commit the Organization.

The MOST Programme Secretariat

Paris, April 1995


" It is precisely because of the cultural diversity of the world
that it is necessary for different nations and peoples to agree
on those basic human values which will act as a unifying factor "

Aung San Suu Kyi
1991 Nobel Peace Prize

Cultural and ethnic diversity is not a new phenomenon and, indeed, social theorists have developed many schema illustrating different contact situations and/or explanations for the presence or absence of conflict between different ethnic groups (Banton 1967; Blalock 1967; van den Berghe 1967; Schermerhorn 1970). Multiculturalism in less than three decades has become a word immediately recognised by policy makers, social commentators, academics and the general public in certain countries. The term, however does not necessarily enjoy such immediate recognition in all parts of the world and furthermore, even where it is recognised, its connotations are not necessarily shared. The reasons for the differential recognition and understanding of the term are critical to the attempt to assess the significance, operation and future of " multiculturalism ". This text examines multiculturalism as an official policy response to coping with diversity.

Western Canadians devised the term multiculturalism to protest continuing hegemonic ambition by the anglophones and francophones of Central Canada. The subsequent federal government policy of multiculturalism and official bilingualism established in Canada set off two decades of political change, leading to a new Constitution, a charter of rights and a referendum on separation (Foster, L. and D. Stockley, 1989).

Broadly speaking, national approaches to the management of cultural or ethnic diversity can be grouped into three categories, which themselves have variants in the models they comprise. A first approach is well illustrated by France which, calling upon Article 2 of its Constitution (which makes no reference to cultural identity), avoids to recognize the existence of national or linguistic minorities within its borders. This approach is characterized by nationality based on jus soli and a civic concept of citizenship. French citizens, whatever their ethnic origin, enjoy equal civic, cultural and linguistic rights as individuals, but not collectively, as minority groups. This integrationist response to diversity assumes that the non-recognition of minority groups is a way of preserving State unity and societal cohesion. It is also a model based on the strict separation of the private from the public space (Birnbaum, 1995). This division is legally elaborated through the Law of 1901 concerning associations (Giordan, 1992) which approves associations as a vehicule permitting citizens (regardless of their origin) to organize the development of the minority cultures and languages to which they are attached. This law is being frequently used by minority groups in France, but the institutional frameworks guaranteeing the real practice of this recognized right are lacking. Nonetheless, on the whole, France has been integrating quite successfully its immigrant populations. However, at present, with increasing immigrant populations, a sizeable number of whom obtain French nationality (about 100,000 a year) the French Republic is struggling to cope democratically with diversity. The educational system has become a prominent arena for these difficulties with repeated rulings against girls wearing the Islamic scarf in public schools. Another current dilemma facing State authorities is the request for granting Jewish pupils in public schools a particular status for the Shabbat.

In contrast to the individualistic French approach, the model illustrated by Germany, Japan or Singapore is founded upon the principle of jus sanguinis, as opposed to jus soli. Citizenship in these countries is based on " blood "or ethnic origin. Concretely, this means, for example, that German citizenship can only be granted to those individuals of German ancestry. Consequently, this prevents, for example, the third generation Turks born in Germany and whose native language is German, from obtaining the nationality, whereas a German from the former Soviet Union, who has never been in Germany before and hardly speaks German can quickly obtain a German passport. A similar conception of citizenship in Japan excludes from Japanese citizenship Japanese-born Koreans and other ethnic minorities who have long been living in the country.

Finally, a third category, of which Australia and Canada are the foremost examples, is accomodation of identitarian claims through the adoption of a model of multiculturalism as an official policy response. Although Australia and Canada have adopted this approach, it is important to point out that not all groups in the two societies were favourable to this decision. Additionally, a major difference between them which affects the evolution of multiculturalism is that Australia is composed of one indigenous population - the Aborigines - one founding population - English - and was later populated by waves of immigrant populations. Canada, however, has several indigenous or First Nation populations, and two " founding populations ": one English, one French (with the French having arrived about 100 years before the English). This split between the French population, concentrated in Quebec and the English population, dispersed among the other provinces, has had enormous political implications in the discourse on multiculturalism in Canada. In particular, the phrase multiculturalism was seen in the late 1960s and 1970s by the French-speaking population as an English majority tactic for reducing the " founding status " of the French to the same political significance as that of late immigrant settler populations, such as the Ukranian settlers.

Linked to these three approaches are three interrelated, but nevertheless distinctive, referents of " multiculturalism " and its related adjective " multicultural " : the demographic-descriptive, the ideological-normative and the programmatic-political. The term " multiculturalism " gained currency after it was recommended in the 1965 Report of Canada´s Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism to replace the bicultural policy based on the British and French Charter groups in terms of which ethnic diversity in Canadian society had been conceptualised for over a century. Since then, its usage has spread rapidly to encompass the " demographic-descriptive " and the " ideological-normative " connotation.

The demographic-descriptive usage occurs where the word " multicultural " refers to the existence of linguistically, culturally and ethnically diverse segments in the population of a society or State. It represents a perception that such distinctiveness has some social significance-primarily because of perceived cultural differences though these are frequently associated with forms of structural differentiation. The precise ethnic groupings which exist in a State, the significance of ethnicity for social participation in societal institutions and the processes through which ethnic differentiation is constructed and maintained may vary considerably between individual States, and over time.

The ideological-normative usage of multiculturalism generates the greatest level of debate since it constitutes a slogan and basis for political action. Furthermore it is one where the limited implementation of explicit multicultural programs and policies means that there is a limited range of empirical evidence available on their operation and outcome. The ideological-normative usage of " multiculturalism " constitutes a specific focus towards the management and organisation of governmental responses to ethnic diversity. Put in simplified terms, these alternatives constitute a continuum from assimilationism to differencialism, the extreme forms of which are exclusion, apartheid, " ethnic cleansing" and genocide. While assimilationism views the significance of ethnic or cultural differences as transitory and disappearing over time as a result of full political, cultural and social incorporation of minority groups into the nation, differentialism does not envisage or consider possible such an incorporation.

As an alternative to assimilationism and differentialism, multiculturalism emphasizes that acknowledging the existence of ethnic diversity and ensuring the rights of individuals to retain their culture should go hand in hand with enjoying full access to, participation in, and adhesion to, constitutional principles and commonly shared values prevailing in the society. By acknowledging the rights of individuals and groups and ensuring their equitable access to society, advocates of multiculturalism also maintain that such a policy benefits both individuals and the larger society by reducing pressures for social conflicts based on disadvantage and inequality. They also argue that multiculturalism is an enrichment for the society as a whole. In Australia, there is the further contention that cultural diversity actually provides an important national resource for foreign economic, political and cultural relations. This benign view corresponds to a definition of " multiculturalism " as " the theory that it is beneficial to a society to maintain more than one culture within its structure " (Macquarie 1985, p.1125).

The third, programmatic-political, usage of " multiculturalism " refers to the specific policies developed to respond to, and manage ethnic diversity. Originally coined in Canada, mainly as a response to English/French divide, the concept was subsequently endorsed by Australia in a statement called " A multicultural society for the future ", launched in 1973. Despite adopting this approach, there is still a question today as to how the policy relates to the indigenous populations of these two countries, and indeed in New Zealand, where the indigenous Maori people resist the the notion of an official multicultural policy. Elsewhere, although multiculturalism may not have been officially adopted as national policy, at various sub-national levels or in non-governmental agencies, multicultural approaches addressing issues of ethnic and cultural diversity are put into practice in various ways.

An examination of " multicultural " policies indicates that while there may be certain very general shared objectives (based on the ideological-normative view of multiculturalism) the actual practices underlying such policies vary considerably between States and have changed over time within each State. As a programmatic response to diversity, multiculturalism must be seen as located within a very specific historical context, both nationally and internationally.

Ethnic and Cultural Diversity

Diversity in patterns of ethnic identities and relations are today a hallmark of the great majority of societies in all regions. Only 10 to 15% of countries can be reasonably qualified as ethnically homogenous (Väyrinen, 1994; Connor, 1994). Linguistic and religious diversity further compounds diversity associated with life styles which draw on traditional cultural forms, even if Western cultural forms become ever more present throughout the world. Ethnic identities relate not only to culture but also, in different ways, to national identities and nationalism. Social science research monitors and analyzes such developments and a considerable number of recent books and articles, building upon limited earlier studies add to our understanding of issues linked to multicultural and multiethnic societies (Krüger, 1993; Smith, 1991 and 1986; Hobsbaum, 1990; McNeil, 1986; Gellner, 1983; Anderson, 1988).

In many ways, ethnicity may be seen as a phenomenon of self perception: an ethnic community is the one which believes it has a common ethnic origin, and shares certain cultural traits, a common ancestry, history and mythology. Nonetheless, beyond its cultural and historical basis, ethnicity is also a political occurrence, at least partly elaborated by the elites and often leads to claims for political sovereignty and State-building.

The understanding of the relationship between ethnicity, nation and nationalism is of central importance. National identity and nationalism have been defined as a modern phenomenon, linked to, and even forged by, the modern State, even if its definition refers also to collective cultural characteristics and occasionally to an ethnic component (Gellner, 1983). Another view, developed by Anthony D. Smith (1986) is that national identity and nationalism have old historical roots, and that in many cases they spring from a pre-existing ethnic group. To the " political " nation is thus opposed the " ethnic " nation. The former view was summarized by the 19th century French philosopher and historian Ernest Renan: " The existence of a nation .... is an everyday plebiscite " (1882, 1992). In contrast to such an individualistic and contractual outlook, the ethnic national identity is a collective one; it is " received " from the past by the whole community and does not involve a voluntary act of adhesion.

These two types of national identity do not exist in pure forms. The political one has historical and cultural roots while the ethnic one, as we have seen, has a politicial dimension. The significant factor is the relative weight of these two components. In any given national identity, when the weight of ethnic component is excessive, it may become an obstacle to the peaceful management of diversity in a society, threaten societal cohesion and lead to violent conflicts. Greater weight of the political component, as compared to the ethnic component of the national identity, facilitates democratic multicultural policies, which respect identitarian claims and permit a degree of autonomy to ethnic communities, while also promoting their full participation in, and access to, the wider constitutional order. A dominant ethnic component in nationality is likely to lead to conflictual situations.

In many countries in the Asia-Pacific, African and Latin American regions, sources of ethnic diversity range historically from population movements linked to the building of empires, spread of religions and patterns of trade, to colonisation, labour migration accompanying rapid economic growth, and refugee populations fleeing from civil disturbances. Somewhat different patterns underlie ethnic relations in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as the USA. As regards the first three countries, established as settler colonies of Britain (and France in the case of Canada), they achieved their independence nearly a century ago, with Canada achieving independence over 100 years ago. While British settlers (and for Canada, British and French settlers) formed the core of their populations, displacing their indigenous populations, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have continued since independence to make extensive use of immigration as a way of meeting perceived needs for economic development and political security. The USA, a former British colony which became independent more than two centuries ago, also displaced, and to a great extent eliminated the indigenous populations, and until recent times remained a country of immigration. In Latin America, the Spanish and Portuguese, settler colonies also possessing indigenous populations that were largely or totally displaced and eliminated are to varying degrees immigration countries, from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, as major countries of continuing immigration have had to address the issues of national identity and nation-building. While the decision to make citizenship easily available to all new settlers partly resolved the issue of how to incorporate the new settlers from non-British backgrounds, it still left problematic other aspects of their incorporation. This was nevertheless a more liberal approach than the one related to the indigenous population. For example, the Australian Aborigines, effectively received full-citizenship rights only in 1967. In the case of indigenous populations, the specific socio-economic, cultural and territorial problems continue to pose different problems, in Canada, New Zealand, USA, Russia, Scandinavia and Latin America.

The question of indigenous, or First Nation peoples, is of foremost significance in analyses of diversity. Such populations have specificities which differentiate them from the general category of minorities. Over the past twenty years, indigenous populations across the world have undergone a remarkable rise in self-assertion and in many ways have " united " to voice their grievances and assert their claims. The Governments of Canada and Australia have undertaken policies to " restitute " or restore historical justice to these populations. In Canada a large zone of the Northwest territories was recently recognized as an autonomous, self-governing unit. In Australia recent changes in the legal system have recognized Aboriginal rights over land.

These national policy decisions have been influenced in part by mounting international pressure channelled by indigenous groups through the United Nations System. The international political arena has offered a forum for indigenous peoples to voice their claims and in this framework a series of normative instruments and agreements have been developed. It is over the past decade that the international struggle has been of particular importance and has resulted in a World Audience at the United Nations for the rights of indigenous peoples. This framework has allowed also Indigenous peoples declare that they are not " ethnic minorities ". Such claims are based upon their rights as the original occupants of the territory, consequently, their representatives maintain that the relations with the immigrant peoples are inter-nation relations that should be regulated by treaties between parties of equal status.

Among the most prominent international actions are the Task Force on Indigenous Peoples, the proposed Declaration of the United Nations on Indigenous People, the adoption of 1993 as the International Year of the World´s Indigenous People and recently the proclamation by the UN General Assembly the International Decade of the World´s Indigenous People, as of December 1994. On the international arena, UNESCO considerably contributed toward bringing about the awareness of the real situation of indigenous peoples and of the need for them to be recognized as full partners in the policy formulation process. This was clear from the meetings held, in conjunction with the Mexican authorities, in Oaxaca, in March 1993 on Education, Work and Cultural Pluralism and at Campeche, the following month, on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Context of New Relations. The statements adopted by these meetings were part of the contribution made by the indigenous peoples of the America's to the World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna, in June 1993 (UNESCO, 1994).

Diversity and Language

A rough typology of language policies can be used to classify responses to cultural diversity at given points in a country´s history. The first category, the smallest one in an increasingly intermixing world, includes countries which are essentially monolingual and favour monolingual language policies, including in education.

The second category of countries are those which hold a monolingual national language policy and a monolingual educational policy, with limited recognition of their multilingual nature, derived from regional languages and immigrant populations. France is a good example of this category. Since the French Revolution, it has perceived a monolingual approach as essential to nation-building, but also in terms of maintaining a centralized approach to education. At the same time, the teaching of regional languages are allowed. The children of immigrant populations born in France have also a chance to learn the language of their parents; this is achieved through bilateral manpower agreements between partner governments. The learning arrangements almost exclusively take place outside school hours at the expense of the country of origin. The possibility of learning the language of origin at secondary level depends exclusively on the presence of that language in the programme of the school or by special arrangements negotiated on a case by case basis in which students can make use of distance education, for example, to study the languages of their parents to high school examination level.

A third category of countries is somewhat similar to the French case. Here the language of the majority is the dominant one, but it has no constitutional or official status and there is some scope within the school system for bilingual education on a transitional basis (i.e. use of the mother tongue in order to better accede to the dominant language at a later stage). The United States is an interesting example in this category, in that there is no official status to English, although it is unquestionably the dominant language. Attempts by States of this federal system to render English official and restrict use of minority languages in public services, including education have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, as impinging on the civil rights of citizens. Thus, the point of entry for respect for linguistic diversity in the U.S. is respect for civil rights rather than an outright policy to promote linguistic diversity. A large debate continues to take place around what is called " official English ". Generally speaking, virtually all intervention to promote transitional bilingual education is geared to assisting non-English speakers to obtain equal educational opportunity and accede to English as the major language of instruction.

A fourth category of countries includes Nation-States which give some institutional recognition to their multilingual character without truly promoting diversity. Indeed, these countries, also federal in nature, have argued that national unity depends on strict respect for linguistic diversity, but only in terms of specific territorial boundaries. This category includes, inter alia, Belgium and Switzerland, where language boundaries coincide with distinct populations, and triple and even quadruple administrations exist to respect that diversity. Nonetheless, in Belgium for instance, there is no strict obligation for French-speaking Wallons to become fluent in Flemish, or vice-versa, within their territorial jurisdictions. Immigrant populations are also in a similar situation to those described in France. The interesting aspect of this policy response to diversity is that some form of institutionalized recognition of linguistic diversity is considered as essential to national unity.

Canada represents the fifth category, as a country which has two official languages but which recognizes the possibility of schooling in other languages including native languages. The Canadian case is particularly complex with certain provinces possessing specific provincial language requirements. Quebec´s Bill 101, for example, requires that the children of immigrants to Quebec go to French language schools. To further illustrate the complexity of language and education, in 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Quebec linguistic policy of limiting access to public schooling in English to only the original English Quebec minority, was against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Liberties. The Quebec legislation had been devoted to protect the francophone community in the Province from a strong anglophone immigration which could eventually assimilate the French and reverse the power relationship between the two linguistic communities in the province. The guarantee of the linguistic rights of the anglophones, the minority in Quebec but the majority outside the Province, could represent a serious threat to the tiny francophone community.

A sixth category which has had a precarious history includes those federal States which have attempted to develop linguistic diversity as well as promote the use of a single language of wider communication. The ex-Soviet Union and the ex-Yugoslavia have been outstanding examples of the use of the generous policies regarding linguistic diversity and the most fragile in times of social crisis. Initially, to convey the new ideas of the revolution, the early Soviet policy included the creation of some 50 alphabets to give written form to languages some of which were on the verge of extinction. The mass literacy campaigns which took place first in the Soviet Union and later served as models elsewhere, were based on the assumption that socialization to the new revolutionary ideas depended primarily on education in the mother tongues and, at a later stage, the learning of Russian as the language of national cohesion. Similarly, the ex-Yugoslavia developed educational models with a high degree of respect for diversity within individual territories, including that of language minorities. Since the breakdown of these States, conflicts arose, which appear to be based on various forms of particularisms, which may have been repressed, or ill-addressed, in the preceding period.

Decisions regarding linguistic diversity are closely linked to prevailing political priorities. During the International Literacy Year, in 1990, countries such as Australia and Canada were the scene of interesting stages of advocacy in this respect. While international years declared by the United Nations are essentially used to promote awareness of certain issues, they can also serve to highlight specific groups or nation´s priorities at that time. It is interesting to note that the Australian approach at that particular period was to promote a form of multilingual recognition, which went under the policy position of " English guaranteed for all ", rather than the earlier move towards institutional recognition of linguistic diversity. At the same time, Canada, officially bilingual English-French, produced major parliamentary recognition of linguistic diversity to promote equality of opportunity, notably for First Nations, or indigenous people (UNESCO, 1993). At the same time, the Northwest Territories of Canada declared six other languages official, beyond the first two languages of wider communication. In both countries, it was considered timely, expedient and appropriate to take these different stances. The impact of these policies today, in the face of global diversity concerns, would need to be measured in terms of actual resources applied to promoting bilingual or multilingual education in the case of Canada, and improvements in the quality of education offered to non-native English speakers in the case of Australia.

In much of the developing world, the issues are similar. In the African continent, linguistic diversity may mean more than 80 languages within the territory of a State. While a number of African States have opted for one or the other of the various categories discussed above, others are experimenting with use of local languages as essential building-blocks to effective learning, with a transition to languages of wider communication at higher stages of education. The debate concerning nation-building is even more complex to the extent that language groups cross national boundaries, and political instability and economic crisis have an overriding impact on attemps to develop a coherent social policy and promote general well-being, let alone respect for diversity.

UNESCO's position over some forty-five years has been to promote wherever possible, the right to learn in one´s mother tongue, as well as the right to access to languages of wider communication. An increasingly-interdependent world characterized by diversity makes this goal an essential priority. There is no lasting democracy or social justice, let alone peace, without such respect and understanding (McAll, 1990).

Diversity and Religion

The relationship of religion to ethnicity and to pluralism remains one of the most controversial matters. There are numerous examples of ethnocultures based on, or buttressed by, religion, such as the Armenian, Jewish, Tamil, Sikh and Serb,-Croat and Bosnian cases. But it is unclear what happens to an ethnic culture when faced with modernisation (i.e. the process of secularisation). On the one hand, it can be argued that the ethnic culture disintegrates, as the religious matrix on which it is based weakens; on the other, as religion weakens, an ethnic identity focus, a kind of secular religion, serves as a substitute cement of collective consciousness of the minority group. Moreover, where religion maintains itself, the communities based on it tend to become less " primordial " more permeable, and less distinguishable from " functional " communities. In fact, religious and ethnic minority communities in industrial societies are not so inclusive, as is sometimes argued by Jacobin intellectuals. This is particularly the case where several religious communities coexist and where such coexistence is sanctioned either by a formal separation of religion and state (as in the United States and France) or by an official " co-legitimation" of several religions (as in Germany and Great-Britain). Such contexts often contribute to the transformation of ethno-religious communities from monistically to pluralistically oriented ones, as in the case of various religions in the Netherlands, and the United States.

In many cases, the importance and impact of religion on politics has not decreased with modernization, despite the hypothesis that science and technology would increase access to education, and mobility would diminish the socio-political importance of religion. In fact, social transformations, which have led to the spread of a Western culture (that nevertheless in many cases may only be skin deep), have also led to a loss of identity. Migrants from developing to developed countries, or from rural to urban areas are particularly influenced by the transformation process, undergo a loss of values and are particularly open to political calls based on religious precepts.

Diversity and the Mass Media

The mass media generally is a critical force in shaping society value systems, as well as individual and collective behaviour. The mimetic factor of mass media, difficult to measure empirically, does have effects on society, whether it be in fashion, music, tastes for the " good life ", status symbols, hero worship, to the extent of shaping opinions and changing or reinforcing one´s attitudes and values - for better or for worse. Such an influence of the media was not exercized to the same extent just a generation ago. In the early 1960s, when the transistor revolution began to spread radio throughout the world, radio receivers were owned by less than 25% of households in the developing countries; television was mainly an urban phenomena, as yet non-existent in many of the developing countries. Today, radio has saturated practically the entire world, while television reaches more than 65% saturation in many developing countries of Asia and Latin America. The prime battles for people´s minds and hearts are waged in front of a television screen or for many others, in front of a radio receiver. Immediacy of information and opinion forming through the electronic media is a characteristic specific to the present generation.

There are several levels on which the media might influence audiences, in relation to issues of cultural diversity: firstly, through the portrayal of stereotyped, biased, or otherwise unfounded images of other people, such that they result in misrepresenting the authentic character and socio-cultural values of these people. Often these images are presented unwittingly, but the result can often be a casting of other peoples in a certain mold from which it is difficult to remove oneself. Media can have such a lasting judgemental effect that writers, presenters and producers must be very careful to avoid falling into the lapses of " buzzwords ", stereotypes and generalizations.

Secondly, there is the portrayal of violence which acts as a " softener " to inhibitions. While it is difficult to substantiate a causal relationship between violence on television and violence in reality, empirical evidence from many studies seems to indicate that repeated exposure to televised violence can de-sensitize one´s inhibitions against violence. Violent TV programmes and video films that portray the " other " as the villain, be it another national, ethnic or linguistic group, or even people from the outer space in science fiction stories - and there are hundreds of them available - may reinforce or encourage racism or ethnic hatred.

As explained in the Guidelines for the Portrayal of Violence on BBC Programmes (1993), while the relationship between the violence on the screen and violence in real life is extremely complicated, and may not be that of direct cause-and-effect, it must be borne in mind that violence in programmes may be imitated.

Finally, there is the deliberate instigation against an ethnic group or nation. This is the case of media being used by authorities in power to actively provoke hatred and call for murder against another ethnic or cultural group of people. The best known recent case, is that of " Radio Mille Collines ", in Rwanda. In 1995, radio broadcasts were used to openly and aggressively provoke listeners to commit outright genocide, against another ethnic group of the same country, in an overall programme of ethnic cleansing. A comparable use of the media is made by the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs, against other Bosnian communities.

On the positive side, communication can contribute to improving the understanding among peoples and the appreciation of other cultures. The mass media, radio, television, and the printed press, are formidable means for exchanging ideas, opinions, and inter-cultural understanding.

In countries that have several ethnic communities within the national fold, it is often necessary to exercize utmost care in news stories, to ensure that they reflect reality with objectivity, accuracy and fairness. In certain countries, press institutes regularly convene journalists to discuss fair ways of reporting events concerning ethnic or cultural groups. Some press institutes and research organizations have published manuals for journalists on ethnic reporting, with a view to encouraging objective and fair portrayal of the issues. But this work must be continued on a larger scale and the experiences shared more widely.

Mass media are for exchanging ideas and opinions, even in zones of conflict. Radio and television particularly could be used to air public debates on the issues that separate peoples: territorial lines, religious beliefs, cultural mores, social behaviour, aspirations for development and social betterment. Such media fora could contribute to consolidating peace where basic accords have been reached and could support efforts towards solidifying such accords in countries where conflicts still hold sway.


The Emerging Prominence of Multiculturalism

The emergence of multiculturalism as prominent term in Western discourse concerning ethnic diversity, conflict and management coincides with increasing awareness in the Western industrial societies, especially over the last two decades, that ethnic groups had not lost their saliency in the lives of large numbers of people. Their earlier perceptions about such a loss of saliency coincides with the 19th century emergence of modern-industrial states, where social theorists such as Durkheim, Weber and Marx, theorised that status based social differentiation was replaced by the social class as the driving force in society. Ethnicity and racial differences were viewed as surviving anachronisms, dating from pre-modern, traditional societies. This analysis was shared by social commentators and policy-makers who operated with an often implicit view that assimilation of minority groups had either occurred, or was in progress. The trend towards global cultural homogenisation, typified by the metaphore of the " global village ", presaged a quickening of this type of development. Even in those industrial nations such as Australia, Canada or the USA which continued to receive large numbers of immigrants, assimilation was viewed as the inevitable process.

By the 1960s, the ethnic rights movement and unrest in a number of the Western industrial countries led to increased questioning of assumptions that ethnic differences were of declining significance. The re-emergence of major ethnic divisions within the former USSR and Eastern Europe has coincided with a major growth of international population movements as a response to economic changes as much as political unrest or demographic pressures (Castles & Miller 1993;Kritz et al 1992; Stahl et al 1993). Together these changes have meant that in the last decade of the 20th century the assumptions of the 19th century writers about the demise of ethnicity as a socially significant force are no longer tenable. Outside the Western industrial societies there was never the illusion that ethnic and racial differences were unimportant or non-existent. Often they constituted the fabric of everyday life and, especially for newly independent states, an important dimension of " nation-building " involved managing the issue of ethnic and cultural diversity. The proliferation of new States following decolonisation has not resulted in the disappearance of multi-ethnic/multi-cultural populations within the new States. In fact, the colonial legacy of departing powers left the new rulers with the dilemma of building a nation through the incorporation of diverse ethnic groups.

In a number of countries, the significance of ethnic diversity has ensured the development of government policies designed to directly address issues of diversity. The circumstances of their formulation, their assumptions and objectives interact to influence their content. For example, contrary to Australia and Canada, New Zealand, despite its shared British heritage and structures, has not adopted multiculturalism as an overall policy. This different practice is indicative of important differences in the situation of the indigenous minorities, as compared to Australia and Canada. Under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, the New Zealand Maori population was assured that its rights would be recognised. While this undertaking was often ignored, it has provided a basis upon which the resurgent Maori movement has been able to effectively argue that they have a legal-political status very different to that of immigrant ethnic groups. Any attempt to extend multicultural policies beyond the latter would be viewed as a major threat to Maori rights. This reaction is very similar to that of the francophone Quebec community in the 60s and 70s, when multiculturalism was proposed by the English majority, as a solution to the struggle between the two linguistic groups.

Policy Response to Cultural Diversity: the Australian Case

Multiculturalism, as Australia's official policy towards ethnic diversity is only two decades old. It replaced earlier policies of assimilation and, briefly, integration. The latter betokened a policy which envisaged that while individuals might retain cultural traditions in their private lives, they would in other respects accommodate to the national culture and public institutions of Australia. The Anglo-centric assimilation policies of the 1940s, 50s and 60s were first critized by Al Granby, the frist Minister for Immigration of Prime Minister Whitlam´s Governments (K. Patterson, 1990). This Government is also known for having established the EA ethnic radio in June 1975. The incoming Fraser Liberal Government (1975-1983) continued promoting Australia as a multicultural society through a number of policy initiatives, including the establishment of the Special Broadcasting Service in 1978, designed to oversee EA ethnic radio and later multicultural television introduced in 1980. According to R. Patterson (1990), Australia has a main body of ethnic press comprising 80 ethnic newspapers and periodicals appearing at least monthly in at least 25 languages. The readership attains approximately 500,000 people. All ethnic press is privately owned.

Since its establishment, the EA radio has been plagued with uncertainty about its future. Much of this is linked to the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and is due to the tension between the rights of ethnic communities in the management of this service and the appropriate role of Governments. The Government imposed restrictions on SBS granting ultimate control of the sources to the Minister and imposed guidelines governing the content of the broadcasting, particularly in avoidance of political partnership. The guidelines were discontinued in 1985.

Multiculturalism in Australia has evolved through several phases, in the short period of two decades. A characteristic of all the phases was that it necessitated a far more pro-active governmental response than required by earlier policies where it was assumed that, while there might be a few delays and disruptions along the way, ultimately, ethnic homogeneity would ensue so that no specific institutional change was required. A major impetus for the changes in policy was the emergence of an ethnic rights movement including articulate and politically active immigrants from non-English speaking backgrounds and grass roots workers in a range of welfare areas, education, health and social services, concerned about the disadvantages faced by many non-English speaking background immigrants. The 1972 elections of a non-conservative reformist government committed to social welfare provisions and overcoming social disadvantage was responsive to changes addressing class related disadvantage and the potential contribution of ethnicity.

In the first major phase of Australian policy, when the target group were newly arrived immigrants of non-English speaking background, the main focus was on the provision of linguistically and culturally appropriate services with the longer term acceptance that cultural maintenance, especially involving language diversity, should be supported. Funding of the nationwide Telephone Interpreter Service, and of welfare and health services for specific ethnic groups were a major initiative which continues. Other major initiatives in this period included the development of " community " language programs and, to a much lesser extent, bilingual education in schools as well as government funding of after-hours ethnic community language schools and the setting up of government radio and television networks broadcasting in languages other than English.

In the second phase of the policy the focus of concern shifted from cultural maintenance to concerns about inequity and social disadvantage and, subsequently, to community relations and racism. Contributing to this shift was the perception that cultural maintenance and cultural pluralism were insufficient to overcome structural inequities confronting many of those of non-English speaking backgrounds, even if not themselves immigrants. The response was not, however, to set up parallel institutional structures but to move towards deep change in the major institutions, especially those bureaucratic institutions associated with the delivery of government services. The term " mainstreaming " was used to refer to the strategies involved in changing the essentially monocultural bureaucracies. Programmatic-political multiculturalism had already resulted in a variety of Federal and State agencies to oversee policy development and implementation, but the shift now was towards changing the way general government agencies operated. These changes intended to remove structural barriers to social participation and were enunciated in the 1989 National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia. They were part of the government's broader agenda for promoting social justice and ensuring equitable access to government programs and services for a range of groups perceived as disadvantaged, including Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, the disabled and women as well as those of non-English speaking background.

Practical outcomes of the National Agenda included improvement of the procedures for recognising overseas qualifications; a campaign to improve community relations; a strengthening of the government's access and equity strategy; extension and improvement of multicultural broadcasting; extension of English language teaching programs and support programs; a commitment for continued support for second language learning and reviews of law and administrative decision-making.

The Australian National Agenda is significant for the way in which it heralded the shift from multiculturalism as a policy for specific targeted groups to being a broader policy for " all Australians ". In this way, the programmatic -political definition of multiculturalism shifted from an " ethnic group " model to what has been described as a " social-democratic concept of citizenship for an ethnically diverse nation " (Castles 1991, p.196). The National Agenda identified three dimensions of multiculturalism for all Australians. These were the right to cultural identity, the right to social justice and the need for economic efficiency which involved the effective development and utilisation of the talents and skills of all Australians. These dimensions were seen as exercised within limits which included a primary commitment to Australia; an acceptance of the basic structures and principles of Australian society including the Constitution and rule of law, tolerance and equality, parliamentary democracy, freedom of speech and religion, English as the national language and equality of the sexes, and the obligation to accept the rights of others to express their views and values.

An important innovation in the specification of the dimensions of multiculturalism is the inclusion of " economic efficiency " which gives Australian programmatic-political multiculturalism a unique orientation. Specifically, it is the key to the argument that multiculturalism is for " all Australians ", since it specifies how cultural diversity is in the interests of all, through its contribution to the economic development of Australia. " Economic productivity " which follows from this dimension involves utilising the cultural skills and talents of Australians from diverse cultural backgrounds to extend Australian economic initiatives both locally and internationally. The use of economic advantage as a basis for achieving legitimation and national acceptance of multiculturalism is not fortuitous. The changes heralded in the National Agenda articulate with broader changes involving economic restructuring of the labour market and the industrial relations system designed to ensure a more flexible workforce where specific job competencies and skills were to replace reliance on formal paper qualifications. As part of the restructuring of the economy there was also a refocussing towards a highly skilled workforce which was to be achieved through major reforms of the education and training institutions.

The changes in Australian multiculturalism policy over the last two decades are the outcome of a variety of factors, including changing awareness of the limitations and outcomes of earlier stages of the policy (as with supplementing cultural pluralism and maintenance initiatives with efforts to reduce disadvantage by removing structural barriers), changes in the policy objectives of different elected governments and the changing outcome of the interplay of interest groups affected by multicultural policies. An underlying factor of considerable importance is the emergence of a generation of Australians who have grown up under the policy of multiculturalism and accept the changes it has produced in Australian society. These include a much more inclusive approach to the attributes of Australian identity and a remarkably high level of tolerance. This is indicated by an absence of extensive inter-group conflict involving either those from the Anglo-Celtic majority as well as that between groups such as those from the former Yugoslavia who outside Australia have become embroiled in extensive and violent conflict. High levels of inter-generational mobility have also contributed to acceptance of the policy among those of non-English speaking background.

There is little to suggest that the multiculturalism policy has reached an end point in its evolution. Australian society has continued and will continue, to change. In addition to economic restructuring, the fiscal crisis of the last decade has resulted in major reductions in the commitment by governments to provide, and their ability to pay for, the range of welfare activities which were common when multiculturalism commenced. Inevitably, this puts pressure on expenditure associated with multicultural, as well as other, programs. This is especially critical given that the existence of such support services, especially for newly arrived immigrants, has been viewed as contributing to successful settlement in Australia and the absence of an emerging ethnic underclass. The composition of new arrivals has also shifted to now include substantial numbers of Asians, often skilled professionals, technicians and managers. Their relationship to those of other ethnic backgrounds and their response to multiculturalism has yet to be clarified.

In addition to these changes, there are also unresolved tensions within the policy which could well produce further change. These include the balance between policy provisions for specific ethnic groups and more general provisions for diversity within existing institutional structures; the balance between maintenance of cultural diversity or pluralism and the attainment of equity; and the acceptance of a national identity based on a concept not of unity but on diversity of cultures, a far more abstract notion, the symbols of which may not always be easily identified. A considerable level of pragmatism has characterised the policy responses adopted by government in Australia to multiculturalism and, within fairly broad limits, they have been successful in avoiding the highly emotive critiques and opposition based on a politics of identity (Castles 1992; Dorais, Foster & Stockley 1994). This is not to suggest that multiculturalism is necessarily seen as an enduring policy by Australian governments. As a background to this consideration and the examination of programmatic-political multiculturalism internationally, a brief comparison of Australian policies with those of Singapore and Canada may provide an additional perspective from which to examine these broader issues.

On the surface, there are many similarities between Singapore and Australia in the emphasis they place on diversity. Singaporean tourist advertisements makes much of the country as a microcosm of various parts of Asia, while Australia too highlights its diversity as one of its tourist attractions. Singapore has gone further than Australia in basing its national identity on the constituent ethnic communities, although in contrast to the still evolving Australian national identity, the extent of interchange between them appears more limited. A closer examination suggests that there are certain important differences between the two approaches, over and above the failure of Singapore to describe its policies as " multicultural ", although it describes itself as " multilingual " and " multiracial " (Clammer 1985 p.135; Inglis 1985). In Singapore, the structural differentiation between the constituent ethnic groups is more marked than in the case of Australia. This appears to be the result of the State policy being very much based on the older model of ethnic separatism in Singapore. In continuation of the colonial tradition of indirect rule, the government plays an important role in the maintenance of institutional and structural pluralism. Much of the stated reason for this is the contribution which maintenance of traditional Asian values can make to economic development which has, of course, been substantial in Singapore. There has, in recent years, been an indication that such an economically rationalist approach is being supplemented by a perceived need to avoid the alienation, which is seen as a threat associated with Westernisation and loss of cultural roots (Clammer 1985). The potential for such alienation to create political instability, even in a situation of relative affluence, may also be noted. Alienation of this type has never been such a concern within Australian policy debate. Indeed the concern is almost the reverse, i.e. that attachment to the ethnic group and the excessive prevalence of the communitarian interests over the autonomy and rights of the individual may generate potential social conflict. The Australian policy considers multiculturalism as a means of improving democracy and respect of individual rights, whereas Singaporian policies favour the community over the individual, and practice a differentialist " multiracialism ", as a means of furthering a strict social and political discipline.

Canada is frequently bracketed with Australia as an example of programmatic-political multiculturalism. Again, there are many superficial similarities but so, too, are there major differences. While some pertain to the different nature of the governmental and administrative systems as indicated by the existence of a Multicultural Act in Canada and a National Agenda in Australia a key difference is the origin of the policies. In Canada, multiculturalism was proposed as a means of giving representation to those groups which belonged to neither the British nor the French Charter groups upon whom the Canadian nation was based. In Australia, the situation was somewhat simpler in that there was no question about the dominant role of the Anglo-Celtic majority. This continuing significance in Canada of the British-French dualism for national identity, especially given major regional variations in the settlement of the various groups, has been, until recently, a less significant focus both in Australian policy development and in the discourse on multiculturalism. In Australia, the role of education in cultural maintenance has been supplemented by attempts to minimise the extent of structural disadvantage and the structural barriers to equity in a manner which appears to have been developed less extensively in Canada where education has been a major area for change. In areas of cultural pluralism such as the media Australia's commitment to multiculturalism has differed from the Canadian where the provisions for French and English broadcasting have taken priority. While in both countries there is a tendency to perceive multiculturalism as being under threat from its opponents who refer to such matters as its potential for divisiveness, in Canada, the far greater potential for divisiveness tends to be seen as resulting not from the newer multiculturalism, but, instead, from strains associated with the older French-English dualism (Abu-Laban & Stasiulus 1992; Dorais, Foster & Stockley 1994). In such circumstances, concerns about national cohesion and identity based on the dualism inevitably take precedence.

The Future of Multiculturalism

Although multiculturalism as a description of demographic diversity is a global phenomena, it has led to the existence of programmatic-political multiculturalism at the national or sub-national levels only in a few countries. There is no inevitable link between description and political response. The dynamics of ethnic diversity is more important in the Asia-Pacific region than anywhere else in the world. The links between ethnic relations policy, national identity and social cohesion in States of this region awaits further specification, but certain linkages between national identity and multiculturalism clearly are discernible. The few nations in the region which have national identity based on homogeneity such as Japan and Korea, have effectively excluded ethnic diversity from consideration and policy initiatives. In Japan the cultural diversity advocated is the one associated with external countries and societies, rather than internal diversity as linked to ethnic minorities. Familiarity and incorporation of foreign cultures has been a hallmark of Japanese society since well before the Meiji restoration, and the present policy accords with this tradition of selective borrowing. This is very different from the acceptance of internal diversity.

The majority of former colonial states seeking to build national unity out of the diversity resulting from colonial experience have had to directly address and seek to manage ethnic diversity, often in a highly conflictual form. Their policies in key areas such as education have often had to make provision for diversity while also establishing a unifying set of cultural symbols, including especially, language. While diversity is often an important part of their national ideologies, the objective of minimal assimilation to key values coexists with a pattern of often considerable structural and institutional pluralism. To view conflicts springing from these intense ethnic divides as evidence of the inevitable failure of multicultural policies is to confuse demographic-descriptive multiculturalism with the programmatic-political form. Indeed, it is more accurate to view such conflicts as a reflection of policies which have pursued an ethnic group model over a lengthy period and in which a certain level of cultural homogeneity veils extensive structural pluralism and differentiation. Change is certainly possible in patterns of ethnic relations as the changed situation of Chinese communities in many countries demonstrates, but the mechanisms contributing to this have been complex and are often only indirectly the result of specific policies addressing issues of diversity.

The experience of Australia and New Zealand are, yet again, different and clearly an outcome of a situation where national identity has been newly constructed, although not under the immediate threat of dissolution so prominent elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region. In the Australian case the earlier formulation of the Australian identity was partially developed as a reaction against the perceived inadequacies of the European societies from which the settlers came (albeit located on a dominant British linguistic and institutional foundation which also had a strong pro-European racist element). The most recent reconsideration of national identity has been the consequence of earlier initiatives in programmatic-political multiculturalism. The task of changing the national identity is certainly contested, but, at a level very different to that encountered elsewhere. This in part is because of the relatively weak form of Australian nationalism (Castles et al 1988) which had as one of its institutional elements a rejection of the strong nationalism evident in 19th century Europe a society which many early settlers had left to seek a better life.

Given the significance of historical factors in ethnic relations, Australian multiculturalism should be viewed as somewhat unique. Certainly there are differences when compared with Canada. This highlights the need to consider the transferability of policies to manage cultural diversity from one state to another. While there is always the possibility of transferring specific practices or programs from one society to another, the outcomes in the new location may differ from that in their home environment, not least because of the importance of the socio-political context in shaping the society.

Nevertheless, the Australian example is instructive because it does counter many of the now common critiques of ideological-normative multiculturalism. These critiques tend to emphasise the volatility and irrationality of the politics of identity which the critics associate multiculturalism. They also highlight the inevitability of political differences resulting not from the pluralism which has underlain much of liberal democratic social theory but, rather, from the conflict which Furnivall (1939) predicted would happen in the colonial plural societies on the departure of the colonial administration. In doing so, they overlook how these divisions in plural society were not merely cultural but were also based on deep-seated differences in economic structures. The differences thus, much more closely represent the earlier forms of ethnic conflict where " class " factors and power differences overlap with cultural differences.

Assertions by such authors as Schlesinger (1992), who criticize certain exaggerations of the ideology of multiculturalism in the USA and claim that it is leading to the disuniting of America, have ignored both the marked absence of programmatic-political multiculturalism in USA and much of Europe, and the presence of strongly ethnic based forms of political representation, within which debate has occurred. The situation which critics claim is the result of the changes involved in multiculturalism is rather the result of somewhat different strategies of managing ethnic diversity, which focus on cultural pluralism while ignoring its structural elements, especially as these involve social inequalities.

While the extremely diverse and relatively small individual ethnic groups in Australia has clearly set the parameters within which policies are developed, it must also be acknowledge that Australia has managed and implemented programmatic-political multiculturalism in a manner which has produced considerable cohesion, rather than opposition. Those of non-English speaking background have not been fused into a unified opposition such as happened with the very diverse groups comprising Aboriginal Australian society. That even the latter are now considering their place within a multicultural Australia, albeit within the framework of specific policies of self-determination and self-management attests to a growing acceptance of the potentially more diverse model of Australian national identity.The tensions which exist within multiculturalism should not be ignored but that they can be resolved within broad limits is evident from the Australian experience.

Increasing changes associated with globalisation and the dynamic changes involving population movements will inevitably produce newer forms of ethnic contact and dynamic pressures for internal changes. The potential for ethnic conflict to remain a major social phenomenon is unlikely to end. One issue which will need to be monitored further is the actual extent to which states retain their ability to formulate domestic policies without reference to larger international imperatives.

Strictly understood, multiculturalism can be workable as a basis for social cohesion and integration. However, it may not be the only way in which social cohesion associated with ethnic diversity is produced. The Australian experience has highlighted how (despite being under close local examination and critique), in the absence of extensive power differentials and despite recession, it has been very resilient as a specific set of policies and programs.

Any effort to formulate policies of managing ethnically and culturally diverse societies needs to consider not only the specific programs and practices but also the social context and the objectives of the State and its citizens. Successful management of multiculturalism and multiethnic societies requires not only a democratic polity, but the struggle against social inequalities and exclusion.


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Activities on the Cultural Rights of Persons Belonging to Minorities and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within UNESCO´s Fields of Competence*


  • Minorities

The question of how to define 'minority' was on the agenda of the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, established in 1947, from the very first days of its existence. Since then, numerous atempts have been made to reach an agreement on this question.

Although no definition of a minority was universally recognized and not one of the normative instruments dealing with the rights of persons belonging to minorities adopted by the United Nations or UNESCO contains any formulation in this respect, nevertheless one can observe that draft definitions, despite concrete formulations, repeat certain elements:

(a) a group numerically inferior;

(b) in a non-dominant position;

(c) having certain characteristics (identity), culture (ethnic, religious, linguistic) which distinguish them from the rest of the population;

(d) with a sense of solidarity or will to safeguard their characteristics.

However, some of these elements are subjective and, as such, open to various interpretations and understandings, as the various studies carried out by the United nations on this question show.

As is the case with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992), normative instruments may regulate questions of the rights of persons belonging to minorities without containing any definition of this notion. The notion of 'minority', as implied by normative instruments, is a restrictive one and it applies only to national, ethnic, religious, linguistic groups and is not related to other disadvantage groups (women, children, aged, etc.), neither does it cover indigenous people.

  • Indigenous People

Two definitions are used in the international context. One is to be found in an international law instrument and the other is a 'working' definition which is used as an 'operational' definition in the elaboration of an instrument that is international in character.

The first definition is found in the ILO Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (Convention Nº169 of 1989).

In Article I.1(b) of Convention Nº169, it is stated that this instrument appllies to:

'Peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present State boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions'.

The second definition is found in the conclusion of the Study on the Problem of Discrimination against Indigenous Populations. The definition reads as follows: 'Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems. This historical continuity may consist of the continuation, for an extended period reaching into the present, of one or more of the following factors: (a) occupation of ancestral lands, or at least part of them; (b) common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands; (c) culture in general, or in specific manifestations (such as religion, living under a tribal system, membership of an indigenous community, dress, means of livelihood, life-style, etc.); (d) language (whether used as the only language, as mother tongue, as the habitual means of communication at home or in the family, or as the main, preferred, habitual, general or normal language); (e) residence in certain parts of the country, or in certain regions of the world; (f) other relevant factors' (paras. 379-380).

This definition is supplemented as follows: 'On an individual basis, an indigenous person is one who belongs to these indigenous populations through self-identification as indigenous (group consciousness) and is recognized and accepted by these populations as one of its members (acceptance by the group). This preserves for these communties the sovereign right and power to decide who belongs to them, without external interference' (para.381).

This definition was accepted as an 'operational definition' by the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.



(i) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, is of particular importance as Article 27 states:

'In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities should not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language'.

If the conditions laid down by the Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are fulfilled, this provision gives individuals the possibility of presenting communications to the Human Rights Committee concerning the violation of their rights.

Iii) The Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities

On 18 December 1992, the General Assembly, by resolution 47/135, adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. The Declaration is the first comprehensive, universal standard-setting instrument dealing with the rights of persons belonging to minorities and will influence the State practice and national legislation.

Article 9 of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities provides that: 'The Specialized Agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system shall contribute to the full realization of the rights and principles set forth in this Declaration, within their respective fields of competence'. This provision, in unequivocal terms, impses an obligation on UNESCO to contribute to the full realization of the Declaration within its fields of competence: through education, science, culture and communcation and by appropriate forms of action.

Among the rights of persons belonging to minorities, the Declaration lists: the right to enjoy their own culture; to profess and practise their own religion; to use their own language; to participate effectively in cultural, religious, social, economic and public life, as well as in the decision-making process concerning the minority to which they belong; to establish and monitor their own associations; to establish and maintain, without any discrimination, free and peaceful contacts with other members of their group or other citizens of other States to whom they are related by national or ethnic, religious or linguistic ties. To eliminate any misinterpretation, it provides expressis verbis that nothing in its text may be construed as permitting any activity contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, including the sovereign equality, territorial integrity and political independence of States.

Iiii) The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted on 25 June 1993 by the World Conference on Human Rights (II.B, paras. 25, 26 and 27), urges States and the international community to promote and protect the rights of persons belonging to minorities as set out in the aforementioned Declaration. Measures to be taken should include facilitation of their full participation in all aspects of the political, economic, social, religious and cultural life of society and in the economic progress and development in their country. The World Conference on Human Rights confirmed once again that persons belonging to minorities '... have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion and to use their own language in private and in public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination' (I, para. 19).

(iv) Other United Nations instruments relevant to the non-discrimination of persons belonging to minorities

It must also be recalled that several United Nations normative instruments, though they do not speak expressly about the rights of persons belonging to minorities, have a direct bearing on the guarantee of non-discrimination and equality of treatment. They are:

the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966);

the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948);

the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965);

the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979);

the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief (1981);

the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).


(i) UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education

The first international convention adopted after 1945 which contains provisions expressis verbis relating to the rights of persons belonging to minorities is the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960). The States Parties to the Convention agreed in ARticle 5, subparagraph 1(c): '... it is essential to recognize the right of members of national minorities to carry on their own educational activities, including the maintenance of schools and, depending on the educational policy of each State, the use or the teaching of their own language, provided however:

(a) that this right is not exercised in a manner which prevents the members of these minorities from understanding the culture and language of the community as a whole and from participating in its activities, or which prejudices national sovereignty;

(b) that the standard of education is not lower than the general standard laid down or approved by the competent authorities; and

(c) that attendance at such schools is optional'.

In Article 7, the Convention imposes on States Parties an obligation to give, in periodic reports submitted to the General Conference, information on the legislative and administrative provisions which they have adopted and any other action which they have taken for its application.

(ii) UNESCO declarations

It is worth noting that, among UNESCO declarations, two are of special importance for the recognition of rights of persons belonging to minorities: the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice (1978) which provides that: 'All individuals and groups have the right to be different, to consider themselves as different and to be regarded as such', and the Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation (1966) stipulating that:

' 1. Each culture has a dignity and value which must be respected and preserved;

2. Every people has the right and duty to develop its culture '.

Similarly, the Recommendation concerning Education for International Undersanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1974) declares: 'Member States should promote, at various stages and in various types of education, study of different cultures, their reciprocal influences, their perspectives and ways of life, in order to encourage mutual appreciation of the differences between them. Such study should, among other things, give due importance to the teaching of foreign languages, civilizations and cultural heritage as a means of promoting international and intercultural understanding' (Article 17).

(iv) Development and promotion of cultural rights

The Organization has worked out a number of standard-setting instruments with a view to implementing, developing and classifying the rights formulated by Articles 13 to 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966:

(a) the right to education (1960 Convention against Discrimination in Education, and others);

(b) the right to participate in cultural life (1976 Recommendation on Participation by the People at Large in Cultural Life);

(c) the right to participate in scientific progress (1974 Recommendations on the Status of Scientific Researchers);

(d) the right to information (19958 Convention on the Exchange of Official Publications, and others);

(e) the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any literary or artistic production (Universal Copyright Convention of 1952 as revised in 1971);

(f) the right to international cultural co-operation (1966 Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation).

UNESCO's normative instruments added other rights to the list contained in Article 15 of the Covenant:

(a) the right to cultural identity (Recommendation on Cultural Identity adopted during the World Conference on Cultural Policies, Mexico City, 1982);

(b) the right to the protection of national and international cultural property and heritage (1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and others).

Analysis of the UNESCO standard-setting instruments concerning cultural rights leads to the conclusion that the list of subjects is fairly comprehensive and embraces individuals, regions, groups, peoples, nation-States and evn humankind in general. Recognizing that States should first of all create conditions and provide guarantees for the implementation of cultural rights, not only to eliminate discrimination but also to undertake affirmative action, UNESCO's normative instruments also stress that this responsibility should be shared with other social actors.

(v) UNESCO and communications relating to human rights

In 104 EX/Decision 3.3, the Executive Board of UNESCO laid down the procedures for the examination of cases and questions submitted to UNESCO concerning the exercise of human rights in its fields of competence. As the rights that ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities are acknowledge to have under ARticle 27 of the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights are an integral part of the system for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, these procedures can be followed when those persons are the presumed victimes, individually or collectively, of a violation of one of the human rights in UNESCO's fields of competence in education, science, culture and information.



The Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities does not refer to indigenous peoples. The nature and the acuteness of the problems faced by indigenous communities in areas such as human rights, the environment, development, education and health, have led the United Nations to take the initiative in developing specific international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples.

(i) The draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples

Further to the initiatives taken by the International Labour Organisation (Convention 107 concerning the Protection and Integration of Indigenous and other Tribal and Semi-Tribal Populations in Independent Countries; Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries), the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities recommended, in 1971, a comprehensive study on discriminiation against indigenous peoples. The predominantly positive response to the study encouraged the United Nations Economic and Social Council to create a working group on indigenous populations. From it svery inception, this working group started to prepare a draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. In its efforts to establish durable and mutually acceptable international standards, the working group paid close attention to a number of sensitive issues (self-determination, collective rights to territories and the significance of treaties between States and indigenous peoples), as well as to the cultural rights of indigenous peoples, among others.

Significant progress has been made towards finalization of a draft declaration. The working group concluded its work in 1993 and it is foreseen that the draft declaration could be submitted for consideration and adoption to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-first session, in 1995.

(ii) The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action includes very important recommendations concerning indigenous people. In paragraph 31, it urged States to ensure the full and free participation of indigenous people in all aspects of society, in particular in matters of concern to them; and in paragraph 32 it recommended that the General Assembly proclaim an International Decade of the World's Indigenous People.

(iii) The Interantional Decade of the World's Indigenous People

On the basis of this recommendation, the United Nations General Assembly, in December 1993, adopted resolution 48/163 proclaiming the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, commencing in December 1994, the period from 1 January to 9 December 1994 to be set aside for the planning for the Decade in partnership with indigenous people (see Annex III).


Within the framework of the standard-setting machinery described above and in co-operation with the Member States and intergovernmental and international non-governmental organizations concerned, UNESCO has for several years been carrying out many activities for persons belonging to minorities and for indigenous peoples.

The Organization's action in this field has been guided by the following three principles:

1. The right to culture is firstly the right of everyone to participate freely in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits (see Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and secondly the right of everyone to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he or she is the author. Cultural rights therefore concern all members of a community and all creative workers in the artistic, intellectual and scientific fields. They represent the possibility for individuals, groups and peoples to maintain, enrich and express their distinctive cultural features.

2. The main objective is to safeguard diversity while seeking to strengthen the foundation of the common interests of majority and minority groups, States and indigenous peoples. The diversity of cultural identities - national or ethnic, religious or linguistic - must be considered as a source of enrichment for the international community. The protection and promotion of the different cultural identities that make up a multi-ethnic, multinational or multicultural community are the sine qua non for the prevention of 'cultural' conflicts.

3. Domocracty is the only institutional framework in which satisfactory solutions can be found to guarantee the rights of persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples. Respect for democratic values and human rights is the basic condition for the develoment of all individuals in tolerance and pluralism, non-discrimination and equality of rights. It is nevertheless necessary to go beyond traditional democracy and apply the principles of a modern, refined democracy that takes into account the requirements of a culture and of an ethical code that are sensitive to injustices that have long gone unnoticed and cannot be content just with the rule of the majority.


(i) Struggle against discrimination

UNESCO is obliged under its Constitution to contribute to the struggle against discrimination, including discrimination against persons belonging to minorities, in all its fields of competence. It does so within the framework of the standard-setting instruments mentioned in Part I of this document. Among these, the Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education are of special interest since they provide for the periodical collection of information on the steps taken in Member States to secure their implementation.

So far, five consultations on the implementation of both instruments have been organized. The fifth questionnaires on the implementation of the Convention and Recommendation contained a number of questions addressing directly the issue of minorities:

' 8. To what extent does your government give effect to the right of members of national minorities to carry on their own education activities, including the maintenance of schools, as set forth in Article 5.1(c) of the Convention (Section V.C of the Recommendation)?

8.1 Are languages of national minorities used or taught in such educational activities?

8.2 Is the standard of education of such activities equivalent to the general standards laid down or approved by the competent authorities?

8.3 Is participation in such activities or attendance at such schools optional?

Of the 172 States consulted by questionnaire, 71, or 42 per cent, replied (including 46 States party to the Convention and 25 States reporting on their implementation of the Recommendation). With regard to legislation, the general picture that emerges is that there are appropriate provisions at prsent in the 71 States to prevent discrimination in education, including discrimination against persons belonging to minorities - the Convention and Recommendation having played a decisive role in this regard.

In 1994-1995, the focus of the sixth consultation on the implementation of the Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education, in conformity with 27 C/Resolution 1.9, is on four population groups: (i) women and girls; (ii) persons belonging to miorities; (iii) refugees; (iv) indigenous people. It is essential that a maximum number of Member States should answer the consultation so that the Secretariat can benefit from a vast array of information that will allow it in the near future to identify new needs and forms of action in this field.

This is all the more important because parties in conflict are calling more and more on the Organization to mediate in order to reduce animosity between ethnic, cultural or religious communities, some of which allege violations of human rights in UNESCO's fields of competence, especially education. This is a new role that the Organization has to play, for which it must prepare itself. It is in this context for example that the Director-General has appointed a high-level adviser in order to report on the situation of Albanians in Kosovo (about 90 per cent of the population), and to elaborate proposals for concrete UNESCO action. The Adviser has led two missions to Kosovo (in 1993 and 1994) and held extensive consultations with the Federal Yugoslav authorities, representatives of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the President of the Democratic League of Kosovo, Mr Ibrahim Rugova.

In addition, it goes without saying that under the procedures laid down by the Executive Board in 104 EX/Decision 3.3, communications may be submitted to the Organization on the exercise of human rights in its fields of competence, whether they relate to specific individual cases or cases of massive and systematic violations.

Celebration of the International Year for Tolerance (1995) provides the Organization an opportunity to expand what it is doing to make people aware of discrimination and incite them to combat it. Special efforts will be undertaken to make the content of the interantional standard-setting instruments against discrimination widely known, with special emphasis on discrimination in the fields of education and culture. A report on the implementation by Member States of the UNESCO 1978 Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice will be prepared, while workshops devoted to the prevention of discrimination will be organized in different regions, as well as an international meeting on the sources and prevention of extreme nationalism, xenophobia and racism.

(ii) Policy research on the management of multicultural and multi-ethnic societies

The Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme is developing interdisciplinary comparative and policy-relevant projects on various aspects of multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies.

A nine-country study in the Asian region is being launched on the long-term social and political consequences of growing ethnic diversity coming from increased migration within the region. The study is led by Australia and will provide guidance for the planning, content and implementation of public policy in the region. Similar large-scale projects on related issues are being developed in Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America. Regional MOST meetings, covering all regions are being held in 1994-95, to establish priority research and policy issues.

(iii) Gathering, exchange and circulation of information

In the context of action taken by UNESCO to develop and promote cultural rights, various studies have been carried out to improve knowledge of the situation of minorities in different regions of the world. Three studies have thus been carried out on ethnic group relations in Africa, Latin America and in Asia and Oceania, as well as a special study on the cultural evolution of countries with diverse ethnical and national groups. In 1992, three supplementary studies were carried out on the legal protection of the cultural rights and identities of minorities in Asia, Africa and Europe.

UNESCO has also given encouragement to current activities aiming at the further definition of cultural rights, their content and the means of applying them. The most outstanding activities conducted in that connection include: four meetings of experts held in Athens (Greece) and San José (Costa Rica) in 1981, Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) in 1982 and Karasjok (Norway) in 1983 to study the rights of ethnic minorities in different regions of the world; an international seminar on human rights and cultural rights, held in Recife (Brazil) in 1987, at which the 'Declaration of Recife' on the linguistic rights of individuals and peoples was drafted; and a seminar on the cultural rights of peoples in Europe, held in Girona in 1991 by the UNESCO Centre of Catalonia (Barcelona) in co-operation with UNESCO.

These activities will be continued in 1994-1995 with a series of studies on the content of cultural rights, with emphasis on the protection and promotion of cultural identities and linguistic rights. The copilation of measures taken in different countries and regions concerning cultural rights of persons belonging to minorities, which was started in 1993, will be continued with a view to their publication.

(iv) Raising public awareness

For many years now, UNESCO has been endeavouring to preserve and to make known the most representative expressions of minority cultures. In addition to the inventory, study and archiving of elements of the intangible heritable (languages, oral traditions, music, dance, performing arts, etc.), various initiatives have been taken or encouraged in order to make the general public aware of the ways of life and forms of expression of these minorities and of action taken on their behalf. The recent initiatives taken include a special issue of The UNESCO Courier (June 1993) on minorities; the very recent UNESCO Collection of video recordings on minority cultures (titles in 1994-1995 are devoted to China and the countries of the former Soviet Union); and the project on The Red Book on Endangered Languages, carried out by ICPHS in collaboration with UNESCO, under which an international information and data base centre on the endangered languages of minorities has just been set up.

(v) Education for human rights and intercultural understanding

The World Plan of Action on Education for Human Rights and Democracy stresses the need for appropriate informatin and education to be extended to people in difficult situations whose rights may be particularly threatened, including minorities. This will be one of the priority tasks of the Advisory Committee established in order to follow up the implementation of the Montreal Plan of Action and to identify strategies to meet the specific needs of these priority groups. As part of the follow-up to the World Plan of Action, too, but within the framework of the Associated Schools Project, model curricula and materials dealing with the problems relating to the consolidation of democracy in multicultural societies will be prepared through a series of pilot projects and teacher-training workshops organized in all regions.

It is also to be noted that the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century will take up issues concerning education and minorities during one of its plenary sessions during 1994-1995.

(vi) Strengthening of endogenous capacities

Various activities (studies, research, publications, meetings) have been undertaken in the last few years to identify more successfully the educational needs of certain minorities and the specific measures that would enable each group concerned to overcome the obstacles hindering its inclusion in socio-cultural and economic life. Studies done by several countries (China, Philippines and Malaysia) in co-operation with UNESCO's Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific are an example of this.

Under the communication programme, UNESCO has also supported a number of radio and audio-visual productions made by and for cultural minorities and marginalized groups in close co-operation with non-governmental an dprofessional organizations. These include the Institute for Latin America (IPAL), the VIDEORED group in Lima, Peru, the World Assocation of Community Radio Broadcasters (ARMARC) and Mahaweli Community Radio in Sri Lanka.

Under the culture programme, in addition to emergency action taken to safeguard the endangered heritage of minorities, mention should be made of action to revive the oral and written traditions of minority peoples or nomads and action to strengthen pluralism by encouraging the cultural expression of minorities and intercultural dialogue.

In 1994-1995, two target groups have been singled out for a series of pilot projects: the gypsies in Europe and the minorities of Viet Nam.

The gypsies are today one of the most vulnerable minorities in Europe, due, in particular, to their nomadic way of life that does not allow for traditional forms of integration, especially in the field of education. On the basis of the results of the pilot education/literacy project for gypsies in Greece (Salonika region) and Spain (Catalonia), carried out in 1993-94, an international symposium reviewed the most appropriate strategies for securing the social and educational integration of gypsies.

Support is also given to the International Centre for Studies on Minorities and Intercultural Relations (Bulgaria) for the implementation of cultural development projects for gypsies, particularly in South Eastern Europe. An information kit on the creative dynamic of the gypsies will also be prepared, on the basis of a compilation of their cultural expressions in the fields of art and social representations. It is hoped that the wide dissemination of this kit will help towards a better understanding of gypsy populations to culture and to the progressive elimination of many stereotyped representations of their way of life.

The Goverment of Viet Nam has decided to establish a global policy for the 53 minorities of the country, with particular emphasis on the safeguarding of their intangible cultural heritage. An international meeting of experts was held in Hanoi from 15 to 18 March 1994 to draw up a national plan for the safeguarding and promotion of this heritage. The projects scheduled, to be funded from extra-budgetary sources, include: the establishment of a training centre on the collection of the intangible heritage; the establishment, in different provinces, of five cultural centres for minorities; the establishment of an institute for the study of minorities and an inventory of the crafts of minority groups. The main potential sources of funds are Japan and France. Experience gained in drawing up the national plan for the safeguarding and promotion of the intangible heritage of minorities in Viet Nam will be of great value in responding to similar needs in neightbouring countries.


In the past, UNESCO's activities for indigenous peoples focused primarily on education. As examples, mention can be made of the activities carried out by the Regional Office for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC) in conjunction with the Regional Network for Training Personnel and providing Specific Support for Literacy and Adult Education Programmes (REDALF). A workshop on literacy and intercultural bilingual education in the Andean countries was thus held in 1990 in Ecuador under the auspices of OREALC and UNICEF. Its objectives were to prepare a survey of action taken in literacy, post-literacy and bilingual education, assess its achievements and the obstacles encountered, and decide on priority activities. Also in 1990, INEA (National Institute of Adult Education) in Mexico, with the support of OREALC, organized a training programme on the production of bilingual and intercultural educational materials. Teachers from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala took part.

The commemoration of the Five-Hundredth Anniversary of the Encounter between Two Worlds (1992) and the International Year of the World's Indigenous People (1993) afforded UNESCO an opportunity to strengthen and expand its activities in this field. In 1992-1993, these activities focused primarily on peooples in the Americas, with the prime objective of creating a new area of dialogue among indigenous peoples and between them and government experts or representatives.

In 1991, UNESCO thus brought together in Ottawa 800 representatives of indigenous peoples from all the Americas to discuss 'Strengthening the spiritual - beyond 500 years'. This first major indigenous meeting threw new light on subjects such as inter-ethnic relations, cultural pluralism, modernity, etc.

The meeting on Amerindia towards the Third Millennium, held in June 1991 at San Cristobal de la Casas, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, enabled a dialogue to be initiated between indigenous representatives, intellectuals and government representatives. The declaration adopted by the participants referred to 'the conditions of extreme poverty and political marginality faced by the majority of the continent's indigenous people' and invited political leaders 'to listen to the many voices clamouring for dignity, justice and solidarity for all the peoples of the continent'. This appeal was echoed in the Guadalajara Declaration, adopted by the first Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government held one month later, which states 'We acknowledge the immense contribution of indigenous peoples to the development and plurality of our societies and we renew our commitment to their economic and social well-being, and the obligation to respect their rights and cultural identity'.

UNESCO has thus made a considerable contribution to bringing about an awareness of the real situation of indigenous peoples and of the need for them to be recognized as full partners. This was clear from the meetings held, in conjunction with the Mexican authorities, in Oaxaca in March 1993 on Education, Work and Cultural Pluralism, and at Campeche the following month on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Context of New Relations. The statements adopted at the end of these meetings - just like the Chiimaltenango Statement approved at the first World Summit on Indigenous Peoples organized by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu, to which UNESCO contributed - were all part of the contribution made by the indigenous peoples of the Americas to the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993).

The Organization has also supported various initiatives taken to develop the endogenous capacities of indigenous peoples and to facilitate their participation in socio-cultural life. In addition to the technical support provided by the UNESCO Office in Bolivia for drawing up projects for submission to the Fund for the Development of Indigenous People, mention can be made of an international seminar, organized jointly with the Ministry of Culture of Guatemala, held at Chichicastenango in March 1993 on Plans and Prospects for Sustainable Development in the Maya Region. This seminar, attended by experts and representatives from many international governmental and non-governmental organizations, highlighted the extreme diversity of the environmental, social, cultural, political and economic problems facing the Maya people and the need to strengthen their endogenous capacities to enable them to devise and carry out their own development projects.

An operation plan for the development of the Mayas (as part of the project on the Maya World) has just been prepared along these lines, in close consultation with organizations representing the Mayas in Guatemala. This plan provides for UNESCO's active support for the organization of the first National Congress on Maya Education; the establishment of an association of Maya craftworkers; an inventory of work on Maya linguistics; and cirulation of the Maya Forest Plan. On the basis of the results of activities carried out in 1994, a major project consisting of many components, the nature and objectives of which will be established by the leaders of Maya organizations, will be implemented with UNESCO's assistance as from 1995.

Within the framework of the Latin America-Caribbean 2000 project, the Organization will also provide support to help indigenous peoples to acquire the abilities needed in various fields that constitute key factors in their development:

Crafts: training and further training courses for indigenous craftworkers on management and the marketing of their products will be organized in several Latin American countries.

Languages: increased aid will be provided for the preparation of glossaries, dictionaires and grammars of indigenous languages in several countries in the Latin America region, in conjunction with the National Commissions.

In addition, the Organization will implement a series of educational and cultural projects to facilitate the integration of migrant indigenous people into life in the cities and to promote their cultural expression. These projects, planned and implemented in co-operation with organizations of indigenous peoples, will concentrate initially on Lima, Mexico City and the border area between Mexico and the United States.

Lastly, UNESCO will contribute to the organization of courses and the granting of fellowships to assist the training of indigenous leaders able to represent their communities in discussions with national and international institutions.

The proclamation by the United Nations of the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People - as of 10 December 1994 - should give new impetus to these efforts. A plan of action embracing all the Organization's fields of competence is being drawn up. This plan will, of course, include public information and awareness-raising activities to improve knowledge of the cultures, ways of life and wishes of indigenous peoples. A teachers' manual entitled 'A new partnership: Indigenous peoples and the United Nations system' has recently been prepared under the Associated Schools Project.

UNESCO's contribution will also include support to enable organizations representing indigenous peoples to take part in meetings of international bodies and to participate directly in the planning and implementation of Decade activities.

In 1994-1995, the focus of UNESCO's activities is on Latin America since it is already engaged in this region in different action-oriented projects and because regional initiatives relating to indigenous people have been taken at the highest level with the support of UNESCO (in particular the creation of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous People, with whose establishment UNESCO has been associated from the very beginning).

The Organization is also developing a number of pilot actions which were begun in Africa during the last biennium. On the basis of the pilot education/literacy project for pygmies in the frontier region of the Congo and the Central African Republic, pilot projects on functional education will be identified and prepared for pygmies in Central Africa. Two feasibility studies will also be carried out concerning pilot projects for nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples in the Sahel.

In the following years, UNESCO's action will extend to other regions (Arctic peoples, Asia and the Pacific, etc.) in accordance with the planning for the International Decade of Indigenous People.


Selective list of UNESCO's Normative Instruments in the field of Cultural Rights

Agreement for Facilitating the International Circulation of Visual and Auditory Materials of an Educational, Scientific and Cultural Character, with Protocol of signature and model form of certificate provided for in Article IV of the above-mentioned agreement (the "Beirut Agreement"), 10 December 1949

Universal Copyright Convention, with Appendix Declaration relating to Article XVII and Resolution concerning Article XI; Protocol 1 annexed; Protocol 2 annexed; Protocol 3 annexed, 6 September 1952

Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (the "Hague Convention") with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention as well as the Protocol to the Convention and the Conference Resolutions, 14 May 1954

Convention concerning the International Exchange of Publications, 3 December 1958

Convention concerning the Exchange of Official Publications and Government Documents between States, 3 December 1958

Convention against Discrimination in Education, 14 December 1960, and Protocol Instituting a Conciliation and Good Offices Commission to be Responsible for Seeking the Settlement of any Disputes which may Arise between States Parties to the Convention against Discrimination in Education, 10 December 1962

Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, 14 November 1970

Universal Copyright Convention as revised at Paris on 24 July 1971, with Appendix Declaration relating to Article XVII and Resolution concerning Article XI; Protocol 1 annexed; Protocol 2 annexed, 24 July 1971

Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 16 November 1972

Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials, with Annexes A to E and Protocol annexed (the "Florence Agreement"), 17 June 1950, and Protocol to the Agreement and with Annexes A to H, 26 November 1976

Recommendation concerning the Most Effective Means of Rendering Museums Accessible to Everyone, 14 December 1960

Recommendations against Discrimination in Education, 14 December 1950

Recommendation on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Export, Import and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, 19 November 1964

Recommendation concerning the Protection, at National Level, of the Cultural and Natural Heritage, 16 November 1972

Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms, 19 November 1974

Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers, 20 November 1974

Recommendation concerning the Safeguarding and Contemporary Role of Historic Areas, 26 November 1976

Recommendation on Participation by the People at Large in Cultural Life and their Contribution to it, 26 November 1976

Recommendation for the Protection of Movable Cultural Property, 28 November 1978

Recommendation on Cultural Identity, 1986 adopted at the World Conference on Cultural Policies, Mexico City)

Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation, 4 November 1966

Declaration of Guiding Principles on the Use of Satellite Broadcasting for the Free Flow of Information, the Spread of Education and Greater Cultural Exchange, 15 November 1972

Declaration on Fundamental Principles concerning the Contribution of the Mass Media to Strengthening Peace and International Understanding, to the Promotion of Human Rights and to Countering Racialism, Apartheid and Incitement to War, 28 November 1978

Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, 27 November 1978

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