History Made On September 13th For Indigenous Peoples At UN!
Treaty Rights, Land Rights and Self-determination of Indigenous Peoples are recognized internationally with the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly on September 13th 2007
On September 13, 2007 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One hundred forty-four states ("countries") voted in support (Montenegro registered their vote after the fact). 4 voted against and 11 abstained.
The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand voted against the adoption, stating that in their view it "goes too far" in recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples. A burst of spontaneous applause from states, Indigenous Peoples and United Nations officials broke out when the final vote was posted on a huge electronic tally sheet at the front of the General Assembly hall.
This vote is of special significance for the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), which was founded in 1974 with a mandate to bring Treaty rights and Treaty violations to the United Nations (UN). With the adoption of the Declaration, for the first time, the UN officially recognizes that the rights affirmed in Treaties are "matters of international concern, interest, responsibility and character" and that states are obligated to uphold and honor them.
The vote marks a historic day for the world's Indigenous Peoples. This is the first time that Indigenous Peoples have been recognized as "Peoples" without qualification in an international instrument.
The Declaration also recognizes Indigenous Peoples' inherent rights to self-determination, traditional lands, territories and natural resources, cultures and sacred sites, means of subsistence, languages, identities as well as their traditional life ways and concepts of development based on free, prior and informed consent, among others.
Many Indigenous delegates, states and UN representatives present at the proceedings noted that this was the first time that a UN human rights instrument had been developed with the direct and active participation of the "beneficiaries" of the rights, in this case the Indigenous Peoples of the world.
Even though a UN Declaration is not considered to be legally binding upon states, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has political and moral force and delineates states' obligations to uphold these rights throughout its provisions. Indigenous Peoples around the world will be able to use the Declaration to redefine their relationships with states, address their grass-roots human rights issues and struggles, and call upon states to put the rights it recognizes into practice.
This vote culminates a decades-long struggle by Indigenous Peoples for recognition of their rights and dignity at the UN. Andrea Carmen, Yaqui Nation and IITC's Executive Director, witnessed the historic vote from the floor of the General Assembly with other regional co-coordinators of the Indigenous Peoples' Global Caucus, as well as Indigenous dignitaries and chiefs.
She stated that IITC will now focus attention on implementation of the rights affirmed in the Declaration. "We finally have an internationally-recognized standard and framework that can be utilized by Indigenous Peoples to hold states and the UN system accountable for upholding their human rights" she said after the vote.
Andrea also pointed out that 3 of the 4 states voting against the Declaration (US, Canada and New Zealand) are the very states that have the most Treaties with Indigenous Peoples and Nations, Treaties which they continue to violate to this day.
Canada and US Are Cop-Outs On this Declaration!
Canada's Reasons For Opposing Indigenous Rights
Native Issues Blog
By Professor Robert J. Miller
Lewis and Clark Law School
September 16th, 2007
On September 12, Canada released a statement as to why it would vote no on Sept. 13 for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Here is the statement I received:
September 12, 2007 22:43 - Statement by Canada’s New Government regarding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples OTTAWA, Sept. 12 /CNW Telbec/ -
The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, issued the following statement today regarding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The General Assembly will vote tomorrow on whether or not to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada will vote against adoption of the current text because it is fundamentally flawed and lacks clear, practical guidance for implementation, and contains provisions that are fundamentally incompatible with Canada’s constitutional framework. It also does not recognize Canada’s need to balance indigenous rights to lands and resources with the rights of others.
Since taking office in 2006, Canada’s New Government has acted on many fronts to improve quality of life and promote a prosperous future for all Aboriginal peoples. This agenda is practical, focuses on real results, and has led to tangible progress in a range of areas including land claims, education, housing, child and family services, safe drinking water and the extension of human rights protection to First Nations on reserve.
We are also pushing to have Section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act repealed. This would ensure the protection of fundamental human rights for all Aboriginal people, including Aboriginal women who are often the most vulnerable.
Canada supports the spirit and intent of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But further negotiations are necessary in order to achieve a text worthy of Canadian support that will truly address the interests of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world.
We have not stood alone during this process. The U.S., Australia and New Zealand have all voiced concerns with the text as it now stands.
Canada’s position has remained consistent and principled. We have stated publicly that we have significant concerns with the wording of provisions of the Declaration such as those on: lands, territories and resources; free, prior and informed consent when used as a veto; self-government without recognition of the importance of negotiations; intellectual property; militaryissues; and the need to achieve an appropriate balance between the rights and obligations of indigenous peoples, member States and third parties.
For example, in Article 26, the document states: “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.” This could be used by Aboriginal groups to challenge and re-open historic and present day treaties and to support claims that have already been dealt with.
Similarly, some of the provisions dealing with the concept of free, prior and informed consent are too restrictive. Provisions such as Article 19 imply that the State cannot act without the consent of indigenous peoples even when such actions are matters of general policy affecting both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
Despite Canada joining efforts with like-minded States that have a large indigenous population, our concerns with the current text were not addressed.
Canada will continue to be active internationally in the field ofindigenous rights, and will continue with our practical and meaningful agenda on priorities here at home.
For further information: Philippe Mailhot, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl, (819) 997-0002; Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, (613) 995-1874
United Nations: Native Declaration
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
At the United Nations, the world has solemnly committed itself to better treatment of native populations. Well, most of the world, except for some of those that have the most responsibility for relating to indigenous populations.
Yup. The Bush administration and three other diehard governments -- Canada, New Zealand and Australia -- couldn't bring themselves to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Far be it from us to ponder thoughts of any special ethnocentrism in largely English-speaking lands; Britain, Ireland, Jamaica and other countries didn't oppose the statement. Appropriately, the four no voters squirmed, straining to explain concerns about technicalities, language and possible conflicts with their own laws, even though the declaration generally wouldn't be binding.
It took more than 20 years for the declaration to receive Thursday's approval from the U.N. General Assembly. You would think that, even under the Bush administration, this country, with one of the largest native populations, would have found a way to be a part of the progress and celebration.
U.S. delegate Robert Hagen did put the administration on record as committed to respect for tribal governments and their rights. "My government will continue its vigorous efforts to promote indigenous rights domestically," he said.
But with a new world standard, even federal, state and local authorities will have to do better as they deal with tribal rights. The U.N. declaration is a step toward greater mutual respect and progress on behalf of all.
TO SUBMIT an ARTICLE, OPINION PIECE, COMMENTS to the Native Unity Digest, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
NATIVE ISSUES BLOG
Professor Robert J. Miller
Lewis & Clark Law School
10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
AIROS NATIVE NETWORK plays music, news and other great programs from Indian Country - www.airos.org
FOR NATIVE CELEBRITY NEWS - go to www.nativecelebs.com
Visit Vietnam Vet. LARRY MITCHELL at http://www.potawatomivet.com and click on his blog at the site.
NATIVE BIZ LEARNING CENTER - www.learn.nativebiz.com was developed for tribal education specialists serving tribal communities. Any tribal community can register at NO COST.
SUPPORTING NATIVE AMERICAN/FIRST PEOPLE - ARTISTS, FILM MAKERS, ENTERTAINERS, ETC. http://www.krystynmedia.blogspot.com.