Fulfilling Indigenous Peoples’ and Minority Rights to Culture and Language

Fulfilling Indigenous Peoples’ and Minority Rights to Culture and Language
11 October 2018, 9.00am - 6.00pm
Conference / Symposium
The Court Room, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Image: Doruk Seymen

2018 marks the 15th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003). Building on this occasion, this conference intends to reflect on the particular rights of indigenous peoples and ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in the domain of cultural and language rights.  

Both indigenous peoples and minorities have cultural life at the core of their collective identities. There are major weaknesses and also some opportunities in the existing international human rights law framework to address these rights, both in principle and in practice. Instruments such as the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage complement existing human rights law and offer additional pathways to protection. The preservation and development of distinct ways of life, languages, values, sciences, legal systems, philosophies, beliefs, and other aspects of culture are both evolving and also under threat. 

The conference seeks to place culture at the centre of discussions. The UN distinguishes between tangible and intangible cultural heritage, but how does this equate with indigenous peoples’ and minorities’ own understanding of culture? In what ways do cultural rights, such as language rights, facilitate the realisation of other human rights for these groups?  How have states accommodated cultural rights through legal or policy frameworks?  What are the intersections between cultural rights and key issues of access to justice, land rights, gender equality or forms of autonomy and self-determination? 


09:00: Registration: the Court Room, 1st Floor, Senate House, University of London
09:30: Panel A: State Policy on Language Rights for Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
11:00: Coffee
11:30: Panel B: Legal Mechanisms for Protecting Cultural Rights
13:00: Lunch
14:00: Panel C: Community Participation and Cultural Rights Protection & Panel D: Contestation for Cultural Rights, 
15:30: Tea
16:00: Keynote speaker and Public Lecture: Fernand de Varennes, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues (Université de Moncton, University of Pretoria).
17:15: Reception
18:00: Opening of the Native Spirit Film Festival [NB: conference delegates must book separately for this event.]

The opening screening includes "Subversive Diversity" by Jan-Holger Hennies, commissioned by OWRI Cross-Language Dynamics. A second OWRI-commissioned film, "Found in Translation" by Almut Dieden, will be screened on 18 October.


Concessionary conference rates are available for students, the unwaged and members of the Human Rights Researchers' Network. If you would like to join the HRRN you may combine membership payment with conference registration (see below for rates).


CONFERENCE ONLY: Student/unwaged/HRRN member £15


CONFERENCE & MEMBERSHIP of HRRN: Student/unwaged £35

Registration includes lunch, refreshments and a drinks reception to mark the opening of the Native Spirit Festival, and an exhibition of indigenous language items curated by Senate House Library.

For more information, please contact Dr. Julian Burger (julian.burger@sas.ac.uk) or Dr. Corinne Lennox (corinne.lennox@sas.ac.uk) at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. 

Click here for information about the Human Rights Researchers' Network

This conference is jointly convened by the Human Rights Consortium and the Institute of Modern Languages Research (School of Advanced Study, University of London), and Brunel University Law School - and in association with Senate House Library and the 12th Native Spirit Film Festival. The conference is supported by the Cassal Trust Fund and the Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) project "Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community" - Translingual Strand.


Jon Millington
020 7862 8726