Monday, August 24, 2009

IITF Intervention at the 2nd Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, Switzerland

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Second Session
Geneva, August 10-14 2009

Speaker: Malia Nobrega, Indigenous ICT Task Force, Indigenous World Association, Waikiki Hawaiian Civic Club
Agenda Item 4a: Implementation of the Declaration at the regional and national levels

The indigenous caucus convened at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) called for universal indigenous connectivity and the development of indigenous specific information and communication technologies (ICTs). At this time the International Indigenous ICT Task Force (IITF) was formed and mandated to continue the work of WSIS.

Since then the IITF has worked successfully with indigenous delegates at forums such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to lobby states and other multi-stake holders to recognise the special position of Indigenous Peoples.

In article 15 of the WSIS Declaration of Principals and article 22 of the Tunis Commitment states that:

"In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of Indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy."

The IITF also continues to carry out it’s work in implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples specifically Article 16 and 31 of the Declaration that states:

Article 16
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. States, without prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately owned media to adequately reflect indigenous cultural diversity.

Article 31
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.

2. In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.

Examples of Implementation of the Declaration
Two examples of the work of the IITF that implements the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are:

1. International Indigenous Portal
The IITF has worked hard on implementing the first, global Indigenous Portal. It was launched two years ago at the UN Permanent Forum on the Indigenous Issues. This is a portal that is for, by, and about indigenous peoples and can be found at The portal has an indigenous manager and indigenous regional editors that work in 4 languages- English, French, Spanish, and Russian.

We recently launched the indigenous portal for mobile phones as well as two applications for iPhones and iPods that allows users to access the English news and audio at anytime.

We continue to look for financial support to continue our work on the indigenous portal which also includes creating partnerships with indigenous organizations to provide capacity building opportunities for indigenous peoples to use media and technology as a tool that gives voice to our people.

The indigenous portal is a platform for all indigenous peoples and organizations to share our news, audio, video, stories, etc… Join us on the portal to share stories from your community.

2. dotIndigi

Indigenous Peoples have a long history of collaboration and connection with each other. We believe the global indigenous community should be identified and enhanced by having its own sponsored gTLD on the Internet. Under a .indigi sponsored TLD those nations, tribes, peoples and organisations can assert control over their own Internet space thus reducing the current threats of cyber squatting, intellectual property rights violations and authentication of content.

A .indigi gTLD will play a strategic role in validating indigenous cultures and languages in an age of increasing globalisation. It will make it easier for individuals and groups who wish to associate with the community to identify with other users around the world. The success of the dotIndigi campaign will confirm that the World Wide Web really is inclusive of Indigenous Peoples.


A top-level domain is the last part of an Internet domain name. The original set of these TLDs, defined in October 1984, is still the most familiar .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, and .org, to which .net was added in the first implementation of the domain name system. Management of TLDs is in the hands of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which operates under contract to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Over the years, new TLDs now called generic TLDs, to distinguish them from, say, country-code TLDs have been added, and now .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro are all operational.

Most important, in June 2008, ICANN approved the recommendation of a new gTLD program which would allow just about any organization to apply to reserve its own gTLD. Under this system, for example, Microsoft could apply for .msn, Google for .google, or New York City for .nyc. The implementation plan for the new system is expected to be published in 2009. The plan must then be approved by the ICANN Board before the system is implemented. ICANN is currently aiming to receive applications for domains starting in the second quarter of 2009.

This new plan is now seen as an opportunity for indigenous peoples to have their own gTLDs .taino, for example, or .shipibo. But applying for a gTLD requires significant resources of time, money, and expertise. For that reason dotIndigi has been formed, with the aim of helping Indigenous Peoples be represented on the Internet in a space that is self-governing, representative, and restrictive of intellectual property abuses.

So what is the plan?

The Dot Indigi organisation will apply to ICANN for a new gTLD <.indigi> (or other if the community suggest a different version) to support all indigenous groups of the world.

The .indigi domain would then offer indigenous organizations the opportunity to register their own second-level domains under the .indigi gTLD for example, māori.indigi or diné.indigi. The organization would petition ICANN to approve the use of such characters as ā and é as part of indigenous names at the second and lower domain levels. Several other 2nd Level Domains will be made public to cater to indigenous individuals or smaller such groups who cannot justify the expense and set up of their own 2nd Level Domain.

Individual indigenous organizations could then govern their own domain name space and distribute or resell third-level domain names for example, Kauai.kanakamaoli.indigi. Indigenous peoples could structure their domain levels to accommodate their own culture; the Māori people could, for example, create the third-level domain .kura.māori.indigi under which each individual Māori school could have its own domain. Additional second-level domains would be made available to the public for the use of indigenous individuals or smaller indigenous groups that cannot justify the expense of setting up their own second-level domain.

It is envisaged that an annual percentage of profits would be given back to indigenous groups to participate more in ICT projects that empower their organisation and peoples.

DotIndigi would also petition to have different translations of the term .indigi to be used and to fall under the umbrella of .indigi for example .autoch could be used for autochtone the french translation of indigenous.

This initiative is being led by the New Zealand Māori Internet Society (NZMIS) with support from indigenous organisations - The Indigenous ICT Taskforce and the International Indigenous Librarians' Forum, as well as many individual Indigenous individuals from around the world. WIPO a UN Agency is also supporting this initiative and we hope that other UN Agencies and NGOs will also be able to support us in this work.

For more information on the work of the IITF and our work of continuing to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples please visit us at

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