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What does freedom look like to you? For some, freedom means going to school. For others, it means having freedom of movement or the freedom to own land and maintain their distinct cultural traditions and beliefs. Through Maya’s story, we see how freedoms are taken away from people and how discrimination divides people and groups. Today, we all have human rights, no matter our age, gender, belief or culture, but not all of us enjoy the freedoms and rights we are entitled to. It is each country’s duty to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and equally. In turn, it is up to each of us to respect all our fellow human beings. We can set off on a lifelong journey of learning about human diversity around the world by reading books about people who are different, who do things differently or who have beliefs that differ from ours.

Peace, Rights and Well-Being


Copyright © 2018 The Iceberg book series was inspired by the Perception Change Project’s Iceberg Infographic, a visual demonstration of what media chooses to broadcast when reporting on the United Nations in light of global challenges, versus what the reality is. The production of this book has been made possible thanks to the financial support from Fondation pour Genève. A special thanks go to the Division of Conference Management at UN Geneva for editing, translating and printing the books, and to Union University in Jackson Tennessee for illustrating the books. Printed at the United Nations Printing Section at UN Geneva, 2018. Written by Kirsten Deall Illustrated by Eli Creasy


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the Iceberg Collection Iceberg Education Poverty Youth Climate Change Gender Health Rights Peace

The series is created by the Perception Change Project team in the Office of the Director-General at UN Geneva.

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Human Rights All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, regardless of age, race, colour, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language or religion. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys such freedom and equality. Some people don’t know they are entitled to certain rights; others live in countries where those rights are not freely given. There are many human rights, such as the right to life, liberty and security, the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression, the right to education, the right to health, and the right to participate freely in the cultural life of a community. Everyone is entitled to all human rights without discrimination. Some of the most marginalized and disfranchised groups are indigenous peoples. They have historically been discriminated against and still face discrimination. Some examples of indigenous peoples are the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic, Native Americans (also known as American Indians, Indians or indigenous Americans), hunter-gatherers in the Amazon, the Kagayanen in the Philippines, the Maya in southern Mexico, the Guaraní, the Quechuas and the Aymaras in South America, the San in Africa, the Hadzabe in the United Republic of Tanzania, the Ogiek in Kenya, and the Batwa in Central Africa. All these groups have the following in common: they self-identify as indigenous; they usually have, or had, their own language; they practise distinctive cultural traditions; they have, or had, their own land and territory, to which they are connected, for instance on a spiritual level. They also share many of the same problems: climate change is having a severe impact on their way of life; they experience difficulty in proving landownership; they live in remote areas with limited access to health-care facilities and educational institutions. A major challenge they face is the negative social attitudes towards them. In recent years, there have been significant advances in international thinking and action on indigenous issues and rights, including the landmark adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, which explains how the rights of all indigenous peoples are to be protected by Governments around the world. Moreover, indigenous peoples are one of the priorities for the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, with the promise to leave no one behind. All the Goals and their targets are relevant to ensuring indigenous peoples’ rights and well-being. Special attention is focused on indigenous peoples’ rights to land and resources, on overcoming discrimination and promoting equality, and on the traditional knowledge that they have passed down from generation to generation. It is up to all of us to understand different cultures on our planet, so we can live in a world where marginalized groups, including indigenous peoples, are respected for their differences and all can gain from having equal and fair rights.

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I was sitting on the swing, not swinging. My grandmother was hanging up the washing next to me. My eyes were red and puffy. Grandmother said that the children who upset me by name-calling meant no harm and that they are only uninformed. Maya: But they said I must go back to the forest, where I belong. Grandmother: Come with me. I want to show you something. My grandmother crouched down to the dusty ground. Grandmother: Look here‌ I bent down next to her. In the sand she started drawing a big circle with her finger. Grandmother: That’s the planet. Inside the planet she drew smaller blobs, which she said were countries. She marked an X where we live. Then she marked all the forests. 5


Grandmother: Come, let me take you to this forest. (Grandmother pointed to a forest far, far away). Maya: Now? How will we get there? But my grandmother ignored me. Instead of responding, she mixed sand and water in the palm of her hand and, with the mud, painted figures and shapes onto the face of a rock. I had not seen images like this in real life, only in books. Grandmother: Before their land and hunting ground were taken from them, this particular tribe lived in this forest. They told beautiful stories, shared ideas, beliefs, history and hunting methods through their rock art. They are just one of many tribes that expressed themselves through paintings and carvings. Now let’s visit another forest in a different country.

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Grandmother gathered leaves and sticks around her. I watched her hands move quickly and effortlessly around the twigs, then she held out a basic, miniature structure of a house. Grandmother: In this part of the forest, there are tribes that live in treetops. They feel safer higher up, away from animals and other dangers that roam on the ground. They are very good at climbing trees. Often they climb trees with their bare hands and feet to collect honey – a prized and savoured treat for the whole family. 8


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Grandmother lifted up the rock and a small spider was exposed. She scooped up the spider with a leaf and placed it on the sand map inside a new country. Grandmother: In this forest, there are tribes that eat the largest spiders in the world – the tarantula. Children learn from their parents and grandparents how to catch this very dangerous and poisonous creature and how to cook it over a fire. I must have looked horrified at the thought because she immediately continued.

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Grandmother: Sometimes animals are more than just a meal. Birds of paradise are killed for their bright, attractive feathers, which signify wealth and prosperity. Men use the feathers to adorn their outfits in the hope of impressing women at traditional ceremonies. Maya: I thought the feathers were from eagles. Grandmother: There are two tribes over there‌ (Grandmother pointed to the map in the sand) who share the same reservation, but have opposing religious beliefs about handling a bald eagle. One group believes the bald eagle is its messenger to the creator and, therefore, think it is unacceptable to kill the sacred bird. The other tribe believes in killing the eagle and using it for religious rituals. But, the most important thing to remember is that all people who live in the forest play a very important role in protecting the environment, and that’s what really matters.

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Maya: I agree with you, Grandmother. What about the indigenous people who are not living in the forest? Grandmother: Right, because not all indigenous people live in forests. Some live on ice and have to deal with severe weather conditions. Finding food is like an extreme sport. They put themselves in very dangerous situations to feed their families. Maya: What do you mean?

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Grandmother: These people have to walk on sheets of ice to spear fish, knowing the ice could easily break. Some go below the ice to collect mussels when the tides pull back. Different tribes have unique methods for getting food in these icy conditions depending on their region, and they all have different tastes and delicacies. Some eat seals and some eat birds stuffed in seal skin, but they all have one thing in common: they experience extreme living conditions in the most remote parts of the planet.

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Maya: And then there are people like us, who live in the city. Grandmother: Precisely. It used to be very different when I was young, though. We were moved into designated reserves with no housing – we had to build our own houses with the scraps we could find. If we worked in the city, we had to make sure we were off the streets by 6 o’clock, otherwise we were fined or sent to jail. If we owned a car, the police would assume the car was stolen. If the car we had was old, the police would inspect it until they found something wrong with it. That’s just how it was. We were made to feel like criminals.

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Grandmother: I was about your age when my brother sent me into the shop with money to buy ice creams for us. I got to the counter – I could just see over the top – and I put the two ice-creams and the money on the counter. The shop assistant didn’t serve me though. He took the groceries from the man standing behind me, which were passed over my head. “Out my way, kid,” said the man who was paying, but at that time I didn’t understand the language spoken in the city. There were two more shoppers behind me, who paid for their groceries before me. And when there was no one else in the shop, except for my brother, who, at this point had entered, I was able to pay for the ice-creams. Grandmother: Walking out the store, I said to my brother in our mother tongue, “I think they just didn’t see me. I’m really small, you know”. “No,” he corrected me. “They saw you. They saw you were not like them.”

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Grandmother: That day was the first time I realized I was different. Not only did I look different, but my difference held me back. In almost all settings, we were made to feel like second-class citizens in our own country. Maya: It seems so unfair. Why does it matter where people are from or what they look like?

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Grandmother: It boils down to a lack of knowledge and understanding of people’s unique cultures, historical ties and traditions. Grandmother: We cannot categorize the world like this. We cannot make sweeping statements. If we do, we are foolish. If we don’t know the individual people, then we don’t know much. 23


Grandmother: Imagine a world of togetherness. A world where languages, legends and oral traditions are preserved, where land and resources are protected for minority groups, where differences are seen as a strength that enriches our planet. Maya: The world would be a much better place like that. Grandmother: My dear, look at me. They can call you all kinds of names, but you are Maya. You have traditions, but it’s you who adds your own flavour to them. You have family and cultural history, but it’s you who narrates the future. You have a community, but you are not a statistic. You may be marginalized, but you must not be generalized. You are an individual. You are Maya.

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“Together, let us celebrate and recognize the stories, cultures and unique identities of indigenous peoples around the world. At the same time, let us work to strengthen their rights and support their aspirations.� Ban Ki-moon Former Secretary-General

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These are just a few examples of the positive statistics that should be making headlines. As the numbers are changing daily, please see the websites of the organizations concerned for the most up-to-date information. • There are at least 370 million to 500 million indigenous people in the world across 90 countries, representing 5,000 different cultures. • Indigenous peoples occupy about a quarter of the world’s surface; they safeguard 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity. • Of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world, a large majority have been created and are spoken by indigenous peoples. • Almost 1,700 athletes from indigenous communities all over the world took part in the first World Games of Indigenous Peoples, held in Brazil in 2015. • Indigenous peoples are leaders in protecting the environment. Nearly 70 million indigenous women and men worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods, while many others depend on activities such as farming, hunting and gathering or pastoralism. • Many different indigenous groups occupy the world’s largest tropical forest wilderness areas in the Americas (including the Amazon), Africa and Asia. Indigenous

peoples and communities legally own 11 percent of the world’s forestlands. • More than 20 indigenous peoples live in the Arctic region. For many, reindeer herding is central to their culture. Indigenous peoples traditionally live and work close to nature, which is an important basis for their culture. • Indigenous peoples hold vital ancestral knowledge and expertise on how to adapt to, mitigate and reduce risks from climate change and natural disasters. Their forests store at least one quarter of all tropical forest carbon, which is equivalent to four times the total global carbon emissions in 2014. Poverty among indigenous households decreased in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, and the educational gap that excluded indigenous children was closed in Ecuador, Mexico and Nicaragua. • According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 80 percent of the indigenous population in developing countries rely on traditional healing systems as their primary source of care.

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International Geneva The city of Geneva lies in the southwestern tip of Switzerland and boasts some of the country’s most recognized qualities. The spectacular views of the surrounding mountains capture first-time visitors and long-standing residents alike, its competitive financial centre attracts business persons from around the world, its quality of life is second to none and, above all else, Geneva hosts a high number of international organizations. This led to the term “International Geneva” being coined. It all started in 1863, when the Red Cross was founded in Geneva to protect victims of armed conflicts. Today, people come together in this city to address not only humanitarian needs but also challenges related to peace, health, science, human rights, migration, climate change and more. International Geneva unites international organizations, academic institutions, an international business community, many nongovernmental organizations and the permanent representatives of 178 Member States of the United Nations. The lives being affected by International Geneva extend well beyond Geneva itself and the leitmotif that runs through its work is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the way that International Geneva, together with its many partners across the world, fights against poverty, prevents violence, protects the planet and does so much more. Geneva may be small in size, its reach is global. It is the venue where the world crafts solutions.

Sustainable Development Goals In an era when we are bombarded with negative news, it is easy to feel discouraged and unequipped to improve the world we live in. Thankfully, to address the many problems, world leaders have adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: a set of 17 goals that are humanity’s road map for transforming our planet into a better place. The goals reach everyone, they leave no one behind, they are all interconnected and they are everyone’s responsibility. We have everything we need to help everyone thrive and reach their potential. Together, let’s create a world where peace, rights and well-being become a reality.

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The Perception Change Project Time and again, when people hear about the United Nations for the first time, their eyes light up. Especially children. The comfort and reassurance we feel knowing that there is an organization that brings the entire world together, for peace, rights and well-being, are unparalleled. We don’t need to explain why there is a need for such an organization. We all get it. It’s there, for all of us. And it’s in International Geneva. At the same time, this feeling of awe and security fades away quickly because we live in tumultuous times and, of course, the reality is different. We have ups and downs, and we are also constantly adapting to address new challenges. News stories often focus on the negative, while we all take the positive for granted. We have a natural tendency to put the spotlight on issues that need to be fixed rather than celebrate what we are good at. But the mission and underlying impact of the work of the United Nations and its partners remain the same, and we don’t always realize it in our daily lives. The good news is that this constellation of organizations that make up International Geneva is still there, carrying out its noble mission. And it belongs to all of us. For it to thrive, we all need to recognize its value, its impact and make sure it can do what it was designed to do. This is what the Perception Change Project has set out to do and it succeeds every time eyes light up when people hear about the United Nations, just like they did the first time.

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Copyright © 2018 The Iceberg book series was inspired by the Perception Change Project’s Iceberg Infographic, a visual demonstration of what media chooses to broadcast when reporting on the United Nations in light of global challenges, versus what the reality is. The production of this book has been made possible thanks to the financial support from Fondation pour Genève. A special thanks go to the Division of Conference Management at UN Geneva for editing, translating and printing the books, and to Union University in Jackson Tennessee for illustrating the books. Printed at the United Nations Printing Section at UN Geneva, 2018. Written by Kirsten Deall Illustrated by Eli Creasy


What does freedom look like to you? For some, freedom means going to school. For others, it means having freedom of movement or the freedom to own land and maintain their distinct cultural traditions and beliefs. Through Maya’s story, we see how freedoms are taken away from people and how discrimination divides people and groups. Today, we all have human rights, no matter our age, gender, belief or culture, but not all of us enjoy the freedoms and rights we are entitled to. It is each country’s duty to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and equally. In turn, it is up to each of us to respect all our fellow human beings. We can set off on a lifelong journey of learning about human diversity around the world by reading books about people who are different, who do things differently or who have beliefs that differ from ours.

Peace, Rights and Well-Being

Profile for Perception Change Project (PCP)

ICEBERG SERIES #4 - Maya (English)  

ICEBERG SERIES #4 - Maya (English)  

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