Show Support for U.N. Indigenous Rights Declaration

Les Malezer of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus addressing participants.

“According to the latest calculations, the Declaration just needs a handful of additional votes in the General Assembly. If it fails to win a majority, it may be years before the General Assembly will consider it again. It is imperative that the Declaration be approved in the next two weeks.” Blue Cloud

The Emergency Coalition of NGOs came together on Thursday, August 30th, to protest in support of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and against those countries who would try to block its adoption. The protest and subsequent march began at the Permanent Canadian Mission to the United Nations, followed by the Permanent Mission of New Zealand to the U.N. and ending in front of the Permanent Mission of Australia to the U.N. on a very busy 42nd Street in New York City.

The marchers and representatives of various NGOs were led by Les Malezer of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus and Claire Greensfelder of the International Forum on Globalization, along with others like Juanita Cabrera-Lopez of the Amazon Alliance who spoke through tears to onlookers in front of the Canadian Mission.

The goal was to send a message to the government of Canada, New Zealand and Australia, particularly Canada and New Zealand, whose long histories of supporting human rights has been well known. “With this in mind, we are stunned by the efforts of these governments, in particular, to derail and weaken one of the most important human rights documents to come before the United Nations since its founding in 1945 – The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People”, the Emergency Coalition of NGOs said in their press statement.

Their call to these nations to join the global NGO community and the majority of the global governmental community in support of the Declaration will never repair the unacceptable damage that has already been done to the Earth’s First Peoples, they said. But, at the very least, it will afford them the rights and future protections that will ensure that their essential governments, ways of life and relationships to the earth will endure on into the future generations.

The Declaration (if adopted) would provide moral and legal backing for several concepts seen as critical to the preservation of the collective rights of the world’s estimated 370 million Indigenous People who belong to 5,000 communities and nations, across 71 countries. These concepts include the rights to:

-Self-determination, autonomy and self-government
-Education in Indigenous languages
-Recognition of Indigenous laws, customs and traditions
-Ownership and control of Indigenous territories and natural resources.

The Declaration would also empower Indigenous Peoples to defend their ancestral lands, often home to some of the world’s most pristine eco-systems and rarest biodiversity, against the operations of the extractive industries, such as mining and gas drilling.

The Declaration is tentatively scheduled for a U.N. General Assembly vote on September 13th.

Elisa Burchett
U.N. OBSERVER & International Report

Please also see:

Draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples

Amazon Alliance http://www.amazonalliance.org

Indigenous Peoples Caucus http://www.ipcaucus.net

International Forum on Globalization http://www.ifg.org

International Indian Treaty Council http://www.treatycouncil.org

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs – IWGIA

Ogiek People http://www.ogiek.org

Western Shoshone Defense Project http://www.wsdp.org

The Return of the Whale Dreamers

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