Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

published 28 July 1998 updated 31 March 2017

The Second World Congress of Education International, meeting in Washington D.C., U.S.A., from 25 to 29 July 1998:

1. Recalls the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ILO Convention (No.169), and the many international instruments on the prevention of discrimination;

2. Notes that 1995 was the beginning of the decade of Indigenous Peoples;

3. Recognises

a. that the social, cultural and economic conditions of Indigenous Peoples distinguish them from other sections of the national community, and that their status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws, regulations or treaties;

b. that those 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 colonisation 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;

4. Considers the diversity of cultures, religions, social and economic organisations of the 250 million Indigenous Peoples, living in over 70 countries world-wide, and representing 4% of the world's population;

5. Recognises the inherent dignity and the unique contribution of Indigenous Peoples to the development and plurality of society;

6. Acknowledges that the distinct cultures and languages of Indigenous Peoples enrich the cultural heritage of humankind and deserve protection as vehicles of culture and identity;

7. Recalls that the constitution of Education International commits EI "to combat all forms of racism and of bias or discrimination in education and society due to gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, religion, political opinion, social or economic status or national or ethnic origin";

8. Recalls further that the World Conference on Human Rights re-affirmed the commitment of the international community to promote the economic, social and cultural well-being of Indigenous Peoples;

9. Recognises the role that teachers, education support personnel and their organisations in the education system have in ensuring the promotion and preservation of cultural identity of Indigenous Peoples.

The Congress determines that Education International:

10. Shall promote the rights of Indigenous Peoples provided for in international human rights instruments;

11. Shall promote the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and recognition of their cultural identity, including the right to learn and to use their own language;

12. Shall promote the rights of Indigenous Peoples through participation in the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations and other United Nations fora, and shall include Indigenous representatives from EI in delegations to such fora where Indigenous issues are the focus of the work;

13. Shall support the proposal for a Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples in the UN;

14. Shall circulate the draft declaration on Indigenous Peoples to EI member organisations and request that they lobby their government to support the adoption of the declaration at the United Nations;

15. Shall urge UNESCO to promote, within the curricula of the education systems of member states, the use of materials that reflect the history, cultures and contemporary lifestyles of Indigenous Peoples and that recognise their knowledge, skills, values and beliefs;

16. Shall encourage member organisations to promote education for Indigenous Peoples, that is developed with their full participation, to meet the aspirations and needs of Indigenous Peoples;

17. Shall encourage member organisations, where appropriate, to establish Indigenous Education Committees, to ensure representation of Indigenous teachers and educational workers in their union structures and to include Indigenous members within their delegations;

18. The Congress determines that EI and member organisations shall establish a work programme in each region to:

a. prepare a triennial report to the EI Congress on the Status of Indigenous Education;

b. ensure that a gender analysis is an integral part of all research and analysis done by EI;

c. prepare information for EI affiliates about the importance of Indigenous Peoples having Indigenous education provided in their communities, with a curriculum based on Indigenous knowledge and values and taught in the Indigenous language of the area;

d. prepare an analysis of the resources required to provide quality education for Indigenous Peoples, including curriculum materials, teacher training, support services and finances;

e. ensure that the history of Indigenous Peoples, from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples, is dealt with fully in national school curricula;

f. arrange for consultation among Indigenous members on the Coolangatta Statement, a draft statement about Indigenous education by Indigenous Peoples;

g. organise regional fora of Indigenous educators in EI regions and an international forum immediately prior to the EI Congress.