Colleagues who teach Theme 8 should be aware of the rights of indigenous populations and the implications of globalisation for their threatened cultural identity. Many IB students are actively involved in Amnesty International campaigns in their schools and stimulating inter-disciplinary debates could be organised on the subject of indigenous identity with participants bringing their own contributions from philosophical, geographical and economic perspectives.

Some geographically-isolated cultures are physically threatened by the invasion in their territory of big international companies which regard their existence as a mere obstacle in their quest for precious minerals or new land for their cattle. However, some international organizations have been set up to defend the rights of these indigenous populations, under the aegis of the United Nations and its Indigenous Peoples Rights declaration of 2007. Unfortunately, the declaration carries no legal sanction against UN member states’ violations of these rights. However, The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues keep a close eye on the latest developments taking place in countries likely to suffer from encroachments of their ‘cultural rights’.

Many organizations at local, national, and international levels are promoting the rights of traditional cultures. Jeremy Rifkin, Globalisation critic and author of ‘The Empathic Civilization’, is supporting the creation of a World Cultural Organization which would ensure the equal protection of all cultures. Another organization, The International Network for Cultural Diversity has presented a similar argument for an international institution, proposing that 1) Governments must not enter into any agreements that constrain local cultures and the policies that support them and 2) A new international agreement should be created, which can provide a permanent legal foundation for cultural diversity.

An informal group of governments is already looking for solutions to cultural issues. The International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP) is an international forum through which representatives of member countries can exchange views on emerging cultural policy issues. The World Social Forum originally based in Porto Alegre (Brazil) took place, for the first time, on African soil, in Dakar (Senegal), in February 2011. It attracted representatives of various African communities and discussed alternatives to the present economic plight of the continent.

Video Clips related to the topic:
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues:
Indigenous peoples’ rights declaration: http: //
“Wake up, World” – SOS from the Amazon: http: //