Charter Agreement on Goals for Long-Term Cooperationon Strengthening Traditional Reindeer Cultures and Reindeer Husbandry of the Transboundary Lake Hovsgol-Sayan Regions of Mongolia and Russia in Geographic Inner Asia
City of Kyzyl, Republic of Tyva, Russia, July 2000
Recognition of the Crisis Conditions Facing Reindeer-Herding Cultures and Peoples and Reindeer Husbandry in Inner Asia Regions of Northern Mongolia and Eastern Siberia
ALL THE SIGNATORIES TO THIS AGREEMENT recognize the ancient and unique Inner Asian cultures associated with Northern reindeer (Rangifer tarandus, sp.) as respected, small-numbered minority native peoples. These include the Tozhu-Tyva, Tofa, Soyot of Russia and the Dukha of Northern Mongolia's Hovsgol Aimag. Concurrently, it is necessary to recognize the rapid disintegration of ethno-linguistic communities of reindeer-herding peoples due to their small numbers, dispersion patterns of settlement, ethno-cultural diversity and an overall weakness in inter-ethnic or native communal association and communication.
ALL THE SIGNATORIES TO THIS AGREEMENT agree that the various reindeer herding peoples of Inner Asia (Hovsgol Aimag of Mongolia and of the Tyva, Buryatia and Irkutsk regions of Russia's Eastern Siberia territories) exist today in an extreme state of crisis due to many factors and require both national and international support for the protection of their culture, lifestyle and reindeer. These factors include:
FIRST, that severe impacts on these native peoples through repressions and assimilation influences during the Soviet Era have made preservation of their unique cultural identity and traditional lifestyle an immense challenge.
SECOND, that the disintegration of the centralized, command economy of the Soviet Era - along with the dissolution and bankruptcy of state and collective farming and, additionally, the incredibly difficult transition to the market economic structure - have together seriously impacted the circumstances facing the reindeer-herding peoples of Inner Asia. Furthermore, the transboundary region itself presents specific peculiarities by the extremes of climate, remoteness from central economic districts, limited diversity in the region's economy, degraded profitability of current farming and herding practices, as well as the monopolizing of trade and service sectors.
THIRD, new free-market pressures, remoteness from medical & heath care, problems of extreme unemployment and alcoholism, distance to markets, challenges in access to higher education as well as traditional ecological and cultural knowledge, industrial development and exploitation, and environmental degradation are all critical factors of change impacting the lives and cultural sustainability of these unique peoples and their cultures. These factors are heightened in their impacts on the reindeer-herding cultures of Inner Asia given their small numbers in the overall population, as well as the lack of special legal protections to support these peoples.
FINALLY, due to the negative influence of the above factors, among others, today, the number of northern reindeer among the geographic Inner Asian reindeer herding peoples have declined precipitously and exponentially over the past decade. Today, perhaps as few as 1,800 head of northern reindeer exist in the transboundary region and their health and longevity is degraded by smaller herd sizes, lack of qualified veterinary care and medicines, poor or reduced herder training and other crisis factors. These factors, combined with the lack of clear mechanisms for the restoration of their communities, creation of sustainable culture and lifestyle ways of the past and the needs to restore the native, organic inter-relationship with nature all represent serious needs among the Inner Asian reindeer herding peoples.
To date, this charter has been signed by 27 representatives of the Tyva government, Tozhu and Dukha reindeer herders, and scholars.
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