After 22 years, UN votes on indigenous peoples declaration
Twenty-two years of intensive debate and negotiations climax this week in New York, as the UN General Assembly votes on whether to approve the declaration on indigenous peoples’ rights.
Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the Russian Federation (all of whom have large indigenous populations) have been vigorously opposing the declaration’s approval. Their actions have provoked outrage amongst tribal peoples worldwide.
The opposing countries are well known for their poor treatment of indigenous peoples. Australia, New Zealand and the United States have in the past been subject to ‘early warning and urgent action procedures’ by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
Canada has been subject to particular criticism, as it has in the past supported the declaration. Canadian opposition parties are united against the stand taken by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
In addition, a large bloc of African countries has insisted on a series of changes to the declaration’s text, which nevertheless still has the support of most indigenous organisations.
Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The declaration has been debated for nearly a quarter century. Years which have seen many tribal peoples, such as the Akuntsu and Kanoê in Brazil, decimated and others, such as the Innu in Canada, brought to the edge. Governments that oppose it are shamefully fighting against the human rights of their most vulnerable peoples. Claims they make to support human rights in other areas will be seen as hypocritical.’
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