Thursday, September 13, 2007

United Nations set to adopt native rights declaration

UN set to adopt native rights declaration, Canada said to be opposed
Canadian Press (CP).OTTAWA (CP) — The United Nations is set to adopt a new Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People despite what critics say was aggressive opposition from Canada.The General Assembly is expected to adopt the declaration before the current session wraps up Sept. 17. Supporters say the declaration is a long overdue step toward limiting the abuse and murder of indigenous peoples around the world.Observers close to the process say Canada supported the declaration until soon after the Conservatives took power.They say the new government aligned itself with the U.S., Russia and Colombia in a well-financed bid to derail the declaration.The Conservatives say the document could undermine Canada's Constitution and harm existing land deals.Supporters say Canada's position makes no legal sense because the declaration is non-binding and would not override Canadian law. ***********************************************UN set to adopt native rights declaration, no thanks to Canada: criticsBy Sue BaileyCanadian Press (CP). - Canada was cast Thursday as a bad actor that aggressively campaigned alongside countries with tarnished human-rights records in its failed bid to derail the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.The non-binding declaration is expected to be adopted Sept. 13 by the UN General Assembly.Its success would thwart what critics say was a well-financed campaign under Canada's new Conservative government to undermine a process supported by the Liberals.The Conservatives say the declaration is flawed, vague and open to broad interpretation. Provisions on lands and resources could be used "to support claims to broad ownership rights over traditional territories, even where rights ... were lawfully ceded through treaty," says a synopsis of Canada's position on the Indian Affairs website."The fact is that no previous Canadian government has ever supported the document in its current form," said Ted Yeomans, spokesman for Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl."The wording is inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our Constitution Act, previous Supreme Court decisions, the National Defence Act and policies under which we negotiate treaties."In fact, documents released to Amnesty International under the Access to Information Act show that the government fought the declaration despite advice from its own officials in Foreign Affairs, Indian Affairs and National Defence, all of them urging its support.The declaration sets out global human rights standards for indigenous populations. Native groups, especially in developing countries, report abuse, land losses, disappearances and even murder at the hands of governments who refuse to recognize their status or title.Discrimination helps ensure that more than 370 million native people around the world suffer disproportionate rates of extreme poverty, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier this month.Canada’s strident opposition to the declaration is a "crime" that flies in the face of Ottawa's avowed desire to promote democracy, says Joseph Ole Simel, co-ordinator of the African Regional Indigenous Caucus.“It's a crime against indigenous people globally, and it's a crime against indigenous people in Canada,” he told a news conference Thursday in New York.This, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper "is trying to dictate to developing nations what they should do."Indigenous people in Canada must be going through hell."Canada has over the last year aligned itself with such countries as Russia and Colombia in its bid to derail the declaration.“We are working with like-minded countries to make positive changes to the document and we will determine our position on voting at a later date depending on the outcome of our talks,” Yeomans said.While the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have also expressed concerns, Canada has become “the prominent opponent to the declaration,” says Les Malezer, chairman of the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus. The group co-ordinates input at the UN from seven global regions.Critics ranging from the national Assembly of First Nations to Amnesty International say Ottawa has never fully explained its related concerns.They stress that the declaration is a non-binding document that is specifically required to be interpreted in balance with other laws, standards and the rights of non-native citizens.“Their argument that it undermines treaties and agreements ... is just not correct,” says Malezer. “I think they're making it up. It's not a legal opinion.”The Canadian government not only supported but was a leader of the process toward drafting the declaration before the Liberals were defeated in January 2006, Malezer said from New York. The Liberals pushed for clarifications - especially on land and resource issues - but were clear proponents, he added.Ottawa's position under the Conservatives changed so drastically that by June 2006, only Canada and Russia voted against the declaration at the UN Human Rights Council.“Clearly it was a political flip,” says Malezer. “And that's just bad behaviour. It's not good faith. It's not about human rights.”Ole Simel, of Kenya, suspects the real root of opposition can be traced to the lucrative timber, minerals and other deposits that lay on or beneath disputed lands.Jennifer Preston, program co-ordinator with the Quaker aboriginal affairs committee, has watched the process unfold for the last six years.“I think a lot of states were deeply disappointed by Canada's behaviour,” she said from Toronto. “I think they expect better from Canada at the UN.“The fact that Canada chose to team up with the Russian Federation and Colombia on this - it's not what one would hope for on a human rights issue.” *************************************************** Text Attachment [ Scan and Save to Computer ]Indigenous leaders voice hope that UN assembly will soon adopt rightsdeclaration6 September 2007 – Indigenous leaders today expressed hope that the United Nations General Assembly next week will adopt a declaration outlining their rights and outlawing discrimination against them. Although the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – which has been drafted and debated for more than two decades – last June, the Assembly deferred action after some Member States raised concerns. A majority of the 16 members of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, an advisory body, have agreed to endorse a recently amended draft declaration for adoption by the General Assembly, Victoria Tauli-Corpus, who serves as Chair of the Forum and as the Co-coordinator of the Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus on the declaration, told reporters in New York. “We think that this is a historical milestone if it is going to be adopted, and hopefully we would like it to be adopted by consensus. It is a historical milestone, too, for the indigenous peoples who havebeen doing this work for more than 22 years,” said Ms. Tauli-Corpus, who belongs to the Kankanaey-Igorot people of the Cordillera region in the Phillippines. She noted that States have a “historical obligation and a moral obligation” to adopt the declaration, which she characterized as a “key instrument and tool for raising awareness on indigenous peoples’ situations and indigenous peoples’ rights.” The General Assembly is expected to consider the adoption of theDeclaration on 13 September before the conclusion of its current session the following day.This May at the Forum’s annual session, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said that there was a widespread misunderstanding that the declaration places indigenous peoples in a special category. “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – it’s really an instrument that interprets international human rights law in so far as it applies to indigenous peoples,” she said. “So it’s not a document, it’s not a declaration that creates new rights.” 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. The text prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, as well as their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

1 comment:

Liberator_Rev said...

I have just used the following excerpt from your page "”The Canadian government not only supported but was a leader of the process toward drafting the declaration before the Liberals were defeated in January 2006, Malezer said from New York. The Liberals pushed for clarifications - especially on land and resource issues - but were clear proponents, he added.Ottawa's position under the Conservatives changed so drastically that by June 2006, only Canada and Russia voted against the declaration at the UN Human Rights Council." on my web site as an illustration of why liberals are naturally on the side of the downtrodden and conservatives are naturally on the side of the oppressors. See http://LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/about/liberals.html
We hope that you and your liberal allies will prevail and invite you to join with us on every other such issue.

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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