Historic Milestone for Indigenous Peoples Worldwide as UN Adopts Rights Declaration

September 16, 2007 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

Hito Histórico para los Pueblos Indígenas (PI) de todo al mundo al adoptarse la Declaración de Derechos de los PI por Naciones Unidas

Despite opposition from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. (see previous comment on the blog)

A pesar de la oposición de Australia, Canada, Nueva Zelanda, y Estados Unidos. (ver commentario anterior)

“This is a Declaration which sets the minimum international standards for the protection and promotion of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Therefore, existing and future laws, policies, and programs on indigenous peoples will have to be redesigned and shaped to be consistent with this standard”

“Esta es una Declaración que determina los mínimos estándares internacionales para la protección y promoción de los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas. Por lo tanto, presentes y futures leyes, políticas, y programas sobre PI tendrán que ser rediseñados y configurados para que sean consistentes con estos estándares”

We cannot deny this is a great achievement for Indigenous People worldwide after 20 years of struggle, and landmarks like this one need to be celebrated, but with caution!

No podemos negar que esto ha sido un gran logro para los PI de todo el mundo después de 20 años de lucha, y hitos como esto hay que celebrarlos, ¡pero con precaución!

Do not forget, the Declaration is not a binding document and there is no international law backing up this Declaration, as it happens with the ILO Convention 169. Therefore, signatory States will have to strengthen and create new regulations to enforce this Declaration, and this remains to be seen.

No se puede olvidar, que la Declaración no es un documento vinculante y no hay ninguna ley internacional que la respalde, al igual que pasa con la Convención 169 de la OIT. Por lo tanto, los estados firmantes tendrán que reforzar y crear nuevas regulaciones para implementar esta Declaración, y esto todavía está por verse.

For the majority of the Western countries (as the ones opposing the Declaration; Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US), this Declaration is not about recognising the rights of Indigenous People, this is about resource control. For better or for worse most part of the oil, mining, and forest resources of these countries are located in indigenous territory.

Para la mayoría de los países occidentales (como los que se oponen a la declaración; Australia, Canada, Nueva Zelanda, y Estados Unidos), esta Declaración no es sobre el reconocimiento de los derechos de los PI, sino sobre el control de los recursos. Para lo bueno y para lo malo la mayor parte de los recursos petroleros, mineros y madereros de estos países se encuentran situados en territorio indígena.

Another issues for discussion that arise from analysing the process of adoption of the Declaration are: is United Nations a reliable institution to enforce Human Rights provision?, Is a multi-State institution, as the UN, the best body to deal with non-State People?, as Indigenous People have defined themselves in different occasions. If we look at the inactivity of the UN in cases like Rwanda, one may be wary too about the real impact of the Declaration as a Human Right tool.

Otros asuntos para la discussion que surgen al analizar el proceso de adopción de la Declaración son; es Naciones Unidas (NU) una institución confiable para el cumplimiento de los Derechos Humanos?, es una institución multi-estatal, como NU, la mejor institución para tartar asuntos de los Pueblos no-estatales?, tal y como se han definido los PI en diferentes ocasiones. Si nos fijamos en la inactividad de NU en casos como el de Ruanda, podríamos también ser excépticos acerca del impacto real de la Declaración como una herramienta de Derechos Humanos.

On the other hand, during the last 20 years Indigenous Peoples (IP) have created a precedent in how to use the UN system for the better. They have managed to form the United Nation Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and this Declaration is the only one in the UN which was drafted with the rights-holders, themselves, the Indigenous Peoples.

Por otro lado, durante los últimos 20 años , los Pueblos Indígenas han creado un precedente en la manera en como usar de la major forma el sistema de NU. Han conseguido crear El Foro Permanente de NU sobre Asuntos Indígenas, y la presente Declaración es la única en NU que ha sido redactada por los propios beneficiarios de los derechos, los Pueblos Indígenas.

See summarized press release in English below

Ver más abajo el resumen del comunicado de prensa en ingles

New York, 13 September – Marking an historic achievement for the more than 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide, the General Assembly today adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the result of more than two decades of consultation and dialogue among governments and indigenous peoples from all regions.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warmly welcomed the adoption, calling it “a triumph for
indigenous peoples around the world.”

Adopted by the Human Rights Council in June 2006, the Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It establishes an important standard for eliminating human rights violations against indigenous peoples worldwide and for combating discrimination and marginalization.

“The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as an international human rights day for the Indigenous Peoples of the world, a day that 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,” said Ms. Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Declaration addresses both individual and collective rights, cultural rights and identity, rights to education, health, employment, language and others. The Declaration explicitly encourages harmonious and cooperative relations between States and Indigenous Peoples. It prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.

The Declaration was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly, with 143 countries voting in support, 4 voting against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstaining (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa, Ukraine).


Entry filed under: Indigenous Resistance, Rights, and Survival.

Inter-American Human Rights Court: A good tool for justice? Another silent genocide, but it is not a Hollocaust!

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