Tenzin Choekyi (International Campaign for Tibet)
Dear Chairman, dear Committee members, Tibet is the world’s highest and largest plateau, the earth’s Third Pole. As the source of most of Asia’s major rivers, it is of critical significance not only to the Tibetan people and the state party but to the rest of the globe.
We have heard less acknowledgment in the discussion of the Tibetans themselves - when they should be honoured for preserving the natural and cultural heritage of their homeland to a degree that has allowed it to be considered as World Heritage in the first place.
This was a serious decision before Committee members. They could decide to help ensure the survival of the nomadic traditions of one of the richest spiritual cultures in the world.
China seeks to convince the world that its policies are solely aimed at conservation and protection. But the Chinese government is imposing policies to displace nomadic pastoralists across the plateau. It is a massive social engineering campaign that threatens to eviscerate a sustainable way of life uniquely adapted to the harsh landscape of the high plateau.
This is despite a scientific consensus in the PRC and beyond that indigenous stewardship and herd mobility are essential to the health of the rangelands and help to mitigate climate change.
Hoh Xil in Qinghai - Achen Gangyap in Tibetan – is in the middle of three major nature reserves. In nature reserves in the PRC it is policy to exclude Tibetan land use such as nomadic herding.
So this inscription raises serious questions for this Committee. In order not to risk contravening principles enshrined in the Convention including FPIC and UNDRIP, strong steps must be taken. It is essential to ensure that no forced relocation or exclusion of traditional nomadic pastoralism or any other policies that may result in removal or exclusion of the traditional users of the property will be undertaken or pursued, while observing the Convention, its principles, the Operational Guidelines and any other applicable international legal standards.
Unfettered access must be possible for independent observers and UN human rights mechanisms to ensure meaningful impact assessment.
The involvement of Tibetans as stewards is essential to sustaining the wildlife, the long-term health of the ecosystems, and the water resources that China and Asia depend upon.
Thanks you so much.