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September 13, 2007

UN Adopts Rights of Indigenous People

Today the UN General Assembly adopted The Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. Interestingly, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States voted against it. Work on this declaration began in 1982, which either shows you how long it takes to write a document in the UN or tells you a lot of thought went into this declaration.

It's non-binding, but is supposed to set a minimum standard for future laws. The Kiwi government rep said they fully support indigenous rights, but that the declaration goes against their constitution, treaties, and laws. I guess they were looking at the broadest possible interpretation, rather than focusing on the symbolic use of a rights declaration. The US'ers complained about being shut out from negotiations on the text of the declaration (perhaps because my country is being represented by people who would rather blow up the UN building than seriously work within multinational organizations). I imagine the Canadians and Aussies are also afraid of rampant reparations demands, since like the Kiwis and US'ers they stole their countries from indigenous people.

On the positive side, 143 countries voted in favor of the declaration.

UN Press Release on Declaration of Indigenous People's Rights
AP story via the International Herald Tribune

by the way, the UN Commission on Human Security just issued its first quarterly newsletter for civil society (that's us regular folks) (pdf).

Posted by cj at September 13, 2007 9:43 PM


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