UNESCO: We never asked for Banishment of the Maasai from Ngorongoro

UNESCO denies to have asked for the discplacement of native Ngorongoro residents from the Conservation Area.

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has distanced itself from the current fracas happening in Ngorongoro, saying UNESCO never condones the discplacement of indigenous Maasai residents from the Conservation Area.

The following is the official statement from both UNESCO and the World Heritage Convention regarding the issue of Ngorongoro.

“Further to recent reports and inquiries, regarding the displacement of the Maasai people in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area World Heritage property…

“…UNESCO wishes to recall that neither the World Heritage Committee – the intergovernmental body of 21 elected States governing the Convention – nor UNESCO Secretariat have at any time asked for the displacement of the Maasai people!” reads the opening paragraph.

A view of the Ngorongoro Crater. Photo © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent

UNESCO appreciates the importance of meeting the development needs of local communities. In this regard, it is essential to recall the World Heritage Committee Decision 44 COM 7B.171 adopted in July 2021, which stated that “there is the need for an equitably governed consultative process to identify long term sustainable interdisciplinary solutions (…) with participation of all rightsholders and stakeholders, consistent with international norms and the policies of the Convention”

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“The Organization fully recognizes that the challenges faced by the local communities and the Maasai people living within the Ngorongoro World Heritage property boundaries are long-standing and date back long before the inscription of Ngorongoro Conservation Area onto the UNESCO World Heritage List.”

A Maasai Cultural Boma, one of the tourists’ attractions within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

“As early as 1996, the General Management Plan (GMP), prepared by the United Republic of Tanzania, proposed a Multiple Land Use Model (MLUM) to address the multiple objectives of the human development of the local residents, the conservation of the natural heritage values, and tourism.”

“UNESCO remains ready to support the United Republic of Tanzania and site management authorities to find sustainable solutions:

  1. UNESCO reiterates its readiness to assist in the review of the MLUM and to provide any other technical assistance to the United Republic of Tanzania for the management of the property and to help determine the way forward.
  2. UNESCO reaffirms its proposal to dispatch an advisory mission to support the ongoing dialogue with the relevant stakeholders and rightsholders.”

The full official UNESCO release is available here

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