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Human Rights Council


1) Indigenous People’s right to self-determination

Indigenous People are people who inhabited a land before it was conquered by colonial societies and who consider themselves distinct from the societies currently governing those territories. As defined by UN Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities: “they form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop, and trasmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as people  in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems” (Martinez-Cobo, 1984).

The indigenous peoples worldwide number between 300 and 500 million. The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights state that all peoples have the right to self-determination, by virtue of which they “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. However, because of the disputes over the exact meaning of the term “peoples”, it is not clear to whom exactly “peoples” refers.

 2) Censorship and the internet: the case of the Middle East

The case of Internet and Media Censorship is common to many countries, with different peculiarities and systems. Nowadays in Iran a large red icon pops up on computer screens, in Syria there is a discreet note from the filter, other Arab nations display “blocked” in bold lettering or issue crafty “page not found” replies.

However, in any of these countries the message is clear. Governments in the Middle East are stepping up a campaign of censorship and surveillance in an effort to prevent internt users from viewing a variety of websites, ranging from human rights activists to pornography. Millions of Middle Eastern users find harder day by day to access popular news and entertainment sites (such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr and so on).
Prohibitions have led to an explosion in circumventors: proxy servers that allow internt users to bypass workplace or government filters.