Monday, September 17, 2007

UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people

After twenty years of work, the declaration passed by a vote of 143 to 4 against. The four who were against were Canada, U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.

FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE STATEMENT OF VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ , CHAIR OF THE UN PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES ON THE OCCASION OF THE ADOPTION OF THE UN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES:

"It is a great honor and privilege to address you all in this historic day. Through the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations marks a historical milestone in its long history of developing and establishing international human rights standards.

It marks a major victory for Indigenous Peoples who actively took part in crafting this Declaration. This day will forever be etched in our history and memories as a significant gain in our long struggle for our rights as distinct peoples and cultures.*

The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as a day when the United Nations and its Member States, together with Indigenous Peoples, reconciled with past painful histories and decided to march into the future on the path of human rights. I thank very warmly all the States who voted for the adoption of the Declaration today. All of you will be remembered by us."

Australia's opposition to what is essentially an aspirational declaration to recognize the primacy of human rights in managing reconciliation processes will be another scar in the consciousness of fair-minded Australians. Howard has cooked up a toxic stew of punitive paternalism that sets reconciliation back decades.

2 comments:

Eilleen said...

I can not believe that we would not support this!! I also did not know of Australia's position on this until now. The media has certainly been very quiet about it.

I think its sad that the Indigenous are so marginalised in our society that something as important as this is not widely reported and supported.

Do you know why Australia opposed this Mark?

Mark Thomson said...

Hi Eilleen, the line taken by Howard is that this somehow advantages aboriginal people over the rest and asserts the primacy of traditional law over existing law. It is all about land rights really, and this Government's determination to undo previous gains. There is an article on the Green Left website worth reading: http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/724/37590