Advances for the new Mechanism: UNESCO Recognizes the Right to Repatriation in its new Indigenous Peoples Policy

After over a year of advocacy by IITC, EMRIP and others, UNESCO’s on August 9th, 2017 the UNESCO Executive Committee provisionally adopted a new Draft Policy on Engaging with Indigenous Peoples. The final draft affirmed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and included a paragraph on repatriation of human remains and cultural items as follows: “Indigenous peoples have the right to repatriation of their human remains and States should seek to enable access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in states’ possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with the indigenous peoples concerned” [para. 77)r] 
 
On October 17th, 2017, UNESCO’s Programme and External Relations Commission recommended the adoption of a draft decision taking note “with satisfaction” of the new policy as a “living document’; calling on “the Secretariat to produce a document detailing its implementation of application of the UNDRIP to the Organization’s mandated areas”; and calling on “Member States to make voluntary financial and in-kind contributions to support the implementation of UNESCO’s programmes and activities in line with the UNESCO policy on engaging with indigenous peoples” [(202 EX/9) 19].
 
IITC is planning to continue its discussions with UNESCO at the Sixth Session of the Subsidiary Committee of the Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property as an observer at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 28 to 29 May 2018. 
 
The continued development of the new International Repatriation Mechanism, as called for in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome document, was also endorsed in the recommendations from the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples Rights to Cultural Heritage which took place in Helsinki Finland November 16-17, 2017. UNESCO, EMRIP, UNPFII, the Sami Parliament and IITC were among the presenters.
 
For more information: Click Here  
 
To read the full UNESCO policy on Engagement of Indigenous Peoples: Click Here 
 
Other news in this e-newsletter include: 
 
* The Hine Raumati Tour in Aotearoa: Strengthening the Health, Well-being and Leadership of Indigenous Women and Girls and Honoring Te Tiriti O Waitangi //  La Gira Hine Raumati en Aotearoa: Fortaleciendo la Salud, el Bienestar y el Liderazgo de Mujeres y Niñas Indígenas y Honrando Te Tiriti O Waitangi (El Tratado de Waitangi) 
 
*High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2018 // Foro Político de Alto Nivel sobre el Desarrollo Sostenible 2018
 
 
Related to SDG 10: Reduced inequalities and SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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