Indigenous People around the world are celebrating today, as after 22 years of intensive debate and negotiations, the United Nations assembly has fianlly approved the Declaration on Indigenous Rights.
The final results of the vote was 143 in favor and four opposed with eleven abstentions.
In a press release by Survival International, Botswana Bushmen Jumanda Gakelebone had this to say:
â€˜We are really very happy and thrilled to hear about the adoption of the declaration. It recognises that governments can no longer treat us as second-class citizens, and it gives protection to tribal peoples so that they will not be thrown off their lands like we were.â€™
Unfortunately, the declaration itself is non-binding until an individual govenrment enacts domestic legislation to recognize it, and there’s no way to know if that will happen in Botswana or anywhere else. But we can be certain it won’t happen in Canada, The United States, Australia and New Zealand, the Nation-States that voted against it.
Earlier in the week, the newly-appointed Indian Affairs Minister of Canada issued a statement explaining Canada’s opposition:
it is fundamentally flawed and lacks clear, practical guidance for implementation, and contains provisions that are fundamentally incompatible with Canada’s constitutional framework. It also does not recognize Canada’s need to balance indigenous rights to lands and resources with the rights of others.
Canada also expressed the concern that Indigenous People would be given a veto power in matters that would effect them.
The other opposing states expressed similar concerns.
John runs the blog Intercontinental Cry, which covers news and events about Indigenous and human rights issues around the world