20061007

 

Cultural mapping, land tenure and potential relevance of UNESCO

Excerpt from Poole report for UNESCO: "...It is clear that the main cause of cultural disintegration amongst Pygmy societies is the destruction of their forests or their eviction from them. To that extent, any programme of cultural revitalisation cannot hope to succeed if it fails to first address the issue of security of tenure. The agencies and interests responsible for this situation - governments, logging and mining companies, rival land-users and conservation agencies – are evidently unmoved by the admonitions and sentiments expressed in the UDCD and have shown no interest at all in addressing the issue of secure access to cultural resources – a pre-condition for Pygmy peoples to enjoy the liberating and developmental effects of cultural diversity outlined in these two Articles and the UDCD as a whole. Although the UDCD evidently does not carry enough weight to compel or persuade national governments to adopt and implement policies of cultural pluralism that could alleviate the predicament of Pygmy peoples, section 2.3.outlined other instruments and programmes that UNESCO has at its disposal and which could be mobilized towards that end, specifically the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) and the World Heritage Convention. These instruments are designed to accommodate land-based peoples within conservation regimes than have a global reach. However, the exponents of both these programmes have rarely been proactive in exploring ways in which people and conservation can co-exist; more often, land-based peoples are passively accommodated within these UNESCO conservation area categories - as long as they behave in an approved “traditional” manner. If they happen to live within “stricter” conservation areas, such as national parks, they are likely to be expelled. UNESCO has a potentially positive role to play here, towards generating the conditions of relative land security under which Pygmy communities could realistically undertake projects for cultural revitalisation. This UNESCO contribution could range from relatively passive interventions, such as resisting the up-grading of the Dja Biosphere Reserve to national park status (2.3.) to more actively informing Pygmy peoples about the objectives and implications of conservation areas and enabling them to decide how to respond to them..."

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