Please Sign the Letter by Filling Out the Fields Below by June 27

In 2013, a
joint letter was sent to the World Heritage Committee from Indigenous peoples throughout the world, criticizing obstacles to the recognition of Indiginous cultures and sites under the World Heritage process.

letter was signed by individuals and representatives from more than 50 indigenous nations throughout the world.

This year, the World Heritage Committee and its affiliated advisory bodies are introducing a set of proposals to address these issues.

We believe that it is time to acknowledge these efforts, and to encourage them to finish the job.

Please sign the letter below, thanking
the World Heritage Committee and its advisory agencies for addressing these important issues, and encourage them to provide leadership to the rest of the world for the recognition of Indigenous rights in international policies..

The letter will be delivered in person by Ovide Mercredi,
National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Canada from 1991‐1997, and other dignitaries at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in BonnGermany on June 29.


We, the undersigned individuals and representatives of the following Indigenous Nations and Institutions, wish to express our gratitude to the World Heritage Committee, The International Union for Conservation of Nature, The International Commission on Monuments and Sites, The International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and the World Heritage Center for recognizing the need to incorporate a respect for Indigenous rights and Titles, and Indigenous world views into the World Heritage Process.
We speak specifically of:

  • The recognition of fundamental challenges in terms of how the indissoluble bonds that exist in some places between culture and nature can be recognized on the World Heritage List, in particular the fact that the cultural and natural values of one property are currently evaluated separately and that the present wording of the criteria may be one contributor to this difficulty

  • The recognition that there is currently no way for properties to demonstrate within the current wording of the criteria, either that cultural systems are necessary to sustain the outstanding value of nature in a property, or that nature is imbued with cultural value in a property to a degree that is exceptional.

  • The proposal to incorporate the established international norm of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), in relation to nominations.

  • Recommendations regarding respecting, consulting and involving indigenous peoples and local communities in the proposal on Sustainable Development.

We acknowledge that these recognitions and recommendations demonstrate the progress from a period of colonialism to a period of the recognition of rights of Indigenous Peoples - an acknowledgement that Indigenous Peoples have a place, have Title and rights to their lands.

But it must also be acknowledged that the ideals of these recognitions are far from being realized, and that there are many hurdles and challenges to the implementation of these ideals.

It is clear that the World Heritage Process has moved from ignoring the rights of Indigenous Peoples to recognizing those rights and titles. It must now implement policies that take into account the Indigenous world-view in a manner that allows those rights to be implemented instead of merely recognized.

While we have come a long way from the time when Indigenous Peoples were forcibly removed from World Heritage Areas in order to protect them, and the Committee has called both for proposals that respect their rights of Indigenous Peoples and those initiated by Indigenous Peoples, it must reform its processes so that Indigenous Peoples are not required to formulate their proposals in a manner fundamentally inconsistent with their culture and their relationship to the land.

It is critical that the committee allow for nominations from peoples who do not see a distinction between nature and culture to be evaluated in a manner that recognizes, is respectful of, and accommodates a non-dualistic world-view.

If the rights of Indigenous Peoples are to move from recognition to implementation within the context of the World Heritage Committee, the Committee and it’s advisory bodies will need to recognize and incorporate an Indigenous world view that does not separate nature and culture rather than asking that these elements be separated in order to fit into a European model of evaluation.

By doing so, The World Heritage Committee and its affiliated organization can use their unique position as international standard bearers to provide global leadership on these important issues, one that we hope will have positive reverberations in other international, national and local policies; and will result in a better alignment with the spirit of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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