11 July 2011
"Tribes in Transition"
Opening remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Tribes in Transition: Photograph exhibition and performance of “Yellow Bird Apache Dancers”
Palais des Nations, B building, 3nd floor, Door 40
Monday, 11 July 2011 at 6:20 p.m.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a pleasure to welcome you all for this important photograph exhibition and performance of the “Yellow Bird Apache Dancers”. I especially thank the Permanent Mission of the United States of America for organizing this special event which highlights the rights of indigenous peoples. It is also a fitting tribute, as it marks the beginning today of the 4th Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which is being held at the Palais des Nations through 15 July.
This exhibition shows the rich diversity of indigenous peoples and the universal human spirit. In many parts of the world, indigenous peoples suffer from a history of discrimination that has left them on the margins of the larger societies in which they exist. For this reason, they face great difficulties in maintaining and developing their own models of development and wellbeing. They are disproportionately affected by poverty and exclusion. Indigenous peoples are entitled to the full range of rights established under international law. Their equal worth and dignity can only be assured through the recognition and protection of not only their individual rights, but also their collective rights as distinct groups.
It is for this reason that the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly in September 2007 represented a historic moment. The Declaration outlines the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlaws discrimination against them.
The promotion and protection of human rights has been and continues to be one of the UN Secretary-General’s priorities.
Here in Geneva, the world’s human rights capital, and across the globe, the United Nations family works together with Governments to help them promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
As we enjoy this exhibition and performance, let us celebrate the moment when United Nations Member States and indigenous peoples came together to move forward on the path of human rights, justice and development for all.
Thank you very much.