News Coverage on the Signing of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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The Associated Press

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5isfp32V1_TQOmUvFu1Op_mHfBRcQD9F6D3QG0

New Zealand backs indigenous rights, US to review

By EDITH M. LEDERER (AP) 16 hours ago

UNITED NATIONS New Zealand on Monday announced its support for a U.N. declaration protecting the rights of more than 370 million native peoples worldwide, and the United States is set to announce that it will review its opposition to the declaration.

The declaration affirms the equality of indigenous peoples and their right to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions. It also establishes standards to combat discrimination and marginalization and eliminate human rights violations against them.

When the General Assembly adopted the declaration in September 2007, there were four opponents the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand who argued that it was incompatible with their existing laws.

Australia announced its support for the declaration in April 2009, and New Zealand’s Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples announced his government’s approval at Monday’s opening session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which about 2,000 native peoples are attending.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice is scheduled to address the forum on Tuesday and will announce that “we will be conducting a formal review of the declaration and the U.S. position on it,” according to an excerpt from her prepared text obtained by The Associated Press.

“Our first nations face serious challenges: disproportionate and dire poverty, unemployment, environmental degradation, health care gaps, violent crime and bitter discrimination,” Rice says. “We recognize that, for many around the world, this declaration provides a framework for addressing indigenous issues.”

The Canadian government said in a speech by the governor general last month that it would take steps to endorse the U.N. declaration “in a manner fully consistent with Canada’s constitution and laws.” Indigenous groups have urged the government to embrace the human rights instrument without conditions or limitations.

The declaration, which is not legally binding, was approved by the 192-member General Assembly after more than 20 years of deliberation. The vote was 143-4, with 11 abstentions and 34 countries not voting.

It calls on states to prevent or redress the forced migration of indigenous peoples, the seizure of their land or their forced integration into other cultures. It also grants indigenous groups control over their religious and cultural sites and the right to manage their own education systems, including teaching in their own languages.

The opponents and many countries that abstained said they wanted to work toward a solution, but they took exception to several key parts of the declaration which they said would give indigenous peoples too many rights and clash with existing national laws.

New Zealand’s Sharples said that “when voting took place in 2007, Maori my people were hugely disappointed that our country had voted against it and since that time many Maori have been working” to reverse the government’s position.

Tonya Gonnella Frichner, a North American member of the Permanent Forum and founder of the American Indian Law Alliance, said she is “hopeful” that both Canada and the United States will support the declaration.

During President Barack Obama’s campaign for the White House, she said, “he did state very clearly to indigenous leaders here in the United States that he was committed to the adoption of the declaration, … so we still feel very positive about that and hope that he will commit to that promise.”

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


AFP: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hbAWKRaeXVh9Xa6u2AMYKA8ci2EQ.

New Zealand backs UN declaration of indigenous rights

(AFP) 16 hours ago

UNITED NATIONS New Zealand on Monday endorsed the UN declaration on the rights of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples, a 2007 document enshrining their land, resource and human rights.

“In keeping to our strong commitment to human rights, and indigenous rights in particular, New Zealand now adds its support to the declaration both as an affirmation of fundamental rights and in its expression of new and widely supported aspirations,” said Pita Sharples, New Zealand’s minister of Maori affairs.

New Zealand had been one of only four countries to vote against the declaration — along with Australia, Canada and the United States — when it was adopted in September 2007 by the UN General Assembly.

Fully 143 countries voted in favor, and 11, including Russia and Colombia, abstained.

Sharples said New Zealand “acknowledges and understands the historic injustices suffered by Maori in relation to their land and resources and is committed to addressing these” through the established settlement process under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi signed by the Maori and the British Crown.

He noted that many Maori groups have already benefited from the transfer of considerable land, forest and fisheries assets through negotiated treaty settlements.

However he conceded that “redress offered in treaty settlements is… constrained by the need to be fair to everyone and by what the country as a whole can afford to pay.”

His announcement was immediately hailed by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which kicked off an 11-day session here to discuss the impact of development policies on native peoples’ culture and identity.

“The Permanent Forum looks forward to continuing its engagement with the government of New Zealand in a spirit of cooperation in order to advance the rights of indigenous peoples in New Zealand and around the world,” said Bolivia’s Carlos Mamani Condori, the current forum chair.

Tonya Gonnella Frichner, a member of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy and the North American representative on the Permanent Forum, said Canada was also moving toward adopting the declaration and expressed hope that US President Barack Obama would keep his election campaign pledge to back the text as well.

Some 2,000 indigenous people representing UN member states, UN agencies and civil society are taking part in the session.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon opened the session by telling the indigenous community; “You are full and equal members of the United Nations family.”

“Indigenous cultures, languages and ways of life are under constant threat from climate change, armed conflict, lack of educational opportunities and discrimination,” he added.

“We need development that allows indigenous peoples, the UN system and all other partners to ensure that the vision behind the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples becomes a reality for all,” Ban said.


The Vancouver Sun

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Zealand+back+text+indigenous+rights/2926212/story.html

New Zealand to back UN text on indigenous rights

By Patrick Worsnip, Reuters April 19, 2010

UNITED NATIONS – In a reversal of its position, New Zealand announced on Monday that it now backed a UN declaration on indigenous people’s rights, leaving the United States and Canada the only countries on record as opposing it.

But in a statement to a UN forum on indigenous issues, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples made clear the support was conditional on New Zealand law taking precedence on controversial aspects of the declaration’s principles.

The nonbinding UN document was passed by the General Assembly in September 2007. It says indigenous people “have the right to self-determination” and “have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise used and acquired.”

The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, each with sizable aboriginal populations, opposed the declaration at the time, saying it provided excessive property and legal powers.

New Zealand’s then Maori Affairs Minister said the document “appears to require recognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens . . . This ignores contemporary reality and would be impossible to implement.”

But Australia, following a change of government, said last year it would support the declaration.

New Zealand’s Sharples told the UN forum on Monday, “Today, New Zealand changes its position: we are pleased to announce our support for the declaration.”

But in offering the support, he said, his country reaffirmed its legal and constitutional frameworks. These, he said, “define the bounds of New Zealand’s engagement with the aspirational elements of the declaration.”

Like Australia, New Zealand has changed its government since 2007. New Zealand media have suggested the decision to back the UN document represented a deal between the ruling National Party and the Maori Party, which supports it.

New Zealand has about 630,000 indigenous Maoris, or some 14 per cent of the population.

Although only four countries spoke out against the UN declaration when it was passed, 11 others including Russia abstained and another 34 were absent from the assembly hall when the vote was taken.

Copyright (c) Reuters


New Zealand Herald

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10639609

PM ‘naive in the extreme’ over UN declaration – Hide

By Audrey Young and NZPA View as one page

2:57 PM Tuesday Apr 20, 2010

Act leader Rodney Hide says his party is “shocked and appalled” at the Government’s decision to support the United Nations’ Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In Parliament he described Prime Minister John Key as “naive in the extreme” that the Government’s decision would have no practical effect.

He also criticised National for what he saw as a breach of the “no surprises” policy.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples flew to New York without publicly revealing he was to make a speech announcing New Zealand would sign up to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The previous Labour Government had refused to sign, saying it was incompatible with New Zealand’s constitution, legal framework and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Also it raised concerns that indigenous people would have more rights than the non-indigenous

The declaration recognised the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, to maintain their own languages and cultures, to protect their natural heritage and manage their own affairs.

New Zealand was, until now, one of only four UN member states opposed to the declaration, and Dr Sharples said that had been “a great disappointment” to Maori.

The Government attached a statement to the declaration making it clear that New Zealand was committed to the common objectives of the declaration and the Treaty of Waitangi and that existing legal and constitutional frameworks that underpinned New Zealand’s legal system would define the bounds of engagement with the declaration.

Mr Key told reporters this morning the Government sought extensive legal advice before taking the step.

“The practicalities are when we read out our affirmation statement we made it quite clear that nothing in the statement supersedes our laws or our constitution…it’s a non-binding aspirational goal…But in a practical step our existing legal frameworks and constitution remains.”

New Zealand had a proud record on indigenous rights, he said, and it was an appropriate step to take especially as many of the countries that had signed it had poorer records than New Zealand.

Mr Key said it “was a nice touch” Dr Sharples was able to make announcement at UN when asked about the secrecy around the visit.

A reporter in Canada, from where Mr Key just returned, had asked him about the declaration. Mr Key said it had not been affirmed, even though the Government had decided it would be.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the declaration was signed in secrecy and Dr Sharples had “sneaked off” to New York.

“New Zealanders should have been told first that this was the intention of the Government, they should not have been told afterwards”.

Mr Goff said there was a conflict between Dr Sharples’ view of the declaration that there were no caveats, and the Government’s position about it not making any practical difference.

Labour had opposed the declaration which had unrealistic goals such as returning all land back to indigenous people.

Mr Goff could not see the point in signing up to a declaration that the Government did not intend to fulfil.

“Why would you sign up to something you never intended to act on and you don’t actually believe in… They are signing up to something they don’t believe in and never intend to implement. The Maori Party has been duped again.”

Mr Key said for a long time the Government had made it clear it wanted to affirm the declaration and there had been “no secret” about that.

Dr Sharples, also a Maori Party co-leader, said after negotiation his party and the Government had come to a position they could both accept. He previously expressed concerns about the number of caveats the Government wanted to attach but today seemed happy with the final outcome and was pleased with the standing ovation his speech received at the UN.

Dr Sharples said the Government had agreed to review the status of the Treaty in the constitution and that was about to happen.

Mr Key said the idea of including Treaty into a written constitution was something the government was “a long way away” from considering.

Dr Sharples reflected well on the relationship between the National and Maori parties.

By Audrey Young and NZPA


New Zealand Herald

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10639516

Nats give in to Maori over rights declaration

By John Armstrong

4:00 AM Tuesday Apr 20, 2010

National has bowed to Maori Party wishes and agreed to support the highly contentious United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples despite the previous Labour Government issuing dire warnings that the document is fundamentally incompatible with New Zealand’s constitutional and legal systems.

New Zealand’s support for the declaration was conveyed in a speech early today by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples at the United Nations in New York.

The declaration recognises the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, being able to maintain their own languages, being able to protect their natural and cultural heritage and manage their own affairs.

Dr Sharples, one of the Maori Party’s co-leaders, said this morning’s announcement restored the mana and moral authority of Maori to speak in international forums on justice, rights and peace matters.

But National appears to have given its backing to the declaration on condition a proviso is attached saying that progressing Maori rights occurs within New Zealand’s “current legal and constitutional frameworks”.

When the declaration was finally placed in front of the UN General Assembly in 2007 after years of preparation, the previous Government expressed with “genuine regret and disappointment” that New Zealand could not support it even though it was non-binding.

New Zealand was one of only four countries to vote against the declaration.

Explaining that vote, New Zealand’s then permanent representative to the UN, diplomat Rosemary Banks, said one article in the document gave indigenous peoples the right “to own use, develop or control lands and territories they have traditionally owned, occupied or used”.

She said the entire country was potentially caught within the scope of that article. “The article appears to require recognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens, both indigenous and non-indigenous …

“Furthermore, this article implies indigenous peoples have rights that others do not.”

New Zealand’s “explanation” also saw major problems with the declaration’s provisions on redress and compensation for indigenous peoples. The declaration also implied that indigenous peoples had a right of veto over Parliament and management of national resources.

The Maori Party has been pressing National to back the declaration. But the Government has proceeded cautiously, being well aware of the potential fish-hooks in it and worried about a public backlash.

Negotiations have been going on for months, with the Prime Minister last year reluctant to put a time-frame on when those talks would reach a resolution.

John Key referred to the negotiations as being a work in progress, saying it was a matter of “crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s”.

National’s concerns appear to have been dealt with by the attachment of the rider to New Zealand’s statement of support. This proviso reaffirms “the legal and constitutional frameworks that underpin New Zealand’s legal system” and notes that those existing frameworks define “the bounds of New Zealand’s engagement with the declaration”.

Dr Sharples said the Labour Government’s position had called into question Labour’s commitment to Crown-Maori relations and undermined New Zealand’s credibility on human rights issues.


New Zealand Herald

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10639755

Bitter outbursts follow backing for UN move

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says the Government’s support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is more than just symbolism and it will be used to further claims of self-determination by iwi.

And Act Party leader Rodney Hide launched a stinging attack in Parliament not just on the decision to back the declaration but on Prime Minister John Key, calling him “naive in the extreme” to suggest it would have no practical effect.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the National-led Government was trying to marry together forces that were totally opposed to each other.

“What we are seeing is the impossibility of balancing out the interests between the Act Party, the Maori Party and the National Party.”

He denounced the secrecy surrounding the announcement and said the Maori Party had been “duped”.

The cabinet decided on March 22 to support the declaration and was informed at that time that Maori Affairs Minister and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples wanted to go to New York to deliver the decision.

The travel plans were kept secret – and the announcement made yesterday at 4.45am in New York.

Mr Key defended the secrecy yesterday, saying he hadn’t wanted to steal Dr Sharples’ thunder. He said the support of the declaration would not impact at all on New Zealand law, that it was symbolic and non-binding.

Mr Harawira, however, said “nothing is ever just symbolic for Maori”.

“It is an important step in our process of heading towards self-determination. I can absolutely guarantee that those Tuhoe who are seeking sovereignty and those other iwi who will be lining up behind them will use the principles of the declaration to support their claims.”

Mr Harawira said Maori up and down the country “feel a lift in Government acknowledging the rights of Maori to be human”.

“This country recognises the rights of women, the rights of workers, the rights of dogs. Great that they can finally get around to recognising the rights of indigenous people.”

He said Labour were “koretake [useless] bastards” who had had the chance to back the declaration but did not take it.

Mr Hide, who had a prescheduled meeting with Mr Key yesterday, said his party was “shocked and appalled”.

“I am very disappointed that the Prime Minister John Key has covertly foisted the declaration on New Zealand and I consider the statement that signing this declaration has no practical effect, I consider that to be naive in the extreme.”


The Sydney Morning Herald

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/new-zealand-backs-indigenous-rights-20100420-sppp.html

New Zealand backs indigenous rights

April 20, 2010 – 6:19AM

AP

New Zealand is reversing its opposition to a UN declaration providing for rights of native peoples worldwide and says it will now sign on.

When the General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007, four opponents – the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – argued that it was incompatible with their existing laws.

Australia has since announced its support, and New Zealand’s Minister of Maori Affairs, Pita Sharples, announced his country’s backing on Monday.

A US official says US Ambassador Susan Rice will announce in a speech on Tuesday that the US is going to review its opposition to the declaration.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity on Monday ahead of the formal announcement.

2010


Voxy news

http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/commission-welcomes-govt-support-un-declaration/5/45562

Commission Welcomes Govt Support For UN Declaration

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the Government’s support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, announced by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York today.

New Zealand was one of four countries that voted against the adoption of the Declaration in 2007, along with Australia, Canada and the United States. Since then, Australia has changed its position, and Canada has said it will review its stance. “This is good news for New Zealand both domestically and internationally,” said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan. “New Zealand generally has an excellent reputation for human rights internationally, but has faced criticism for not supporting the Declaration. This change of heart will be greatly welcomed internationally.” Ms Noonan said that the Declaration provides a useful guide when considering issues involving the human rights of indigenous peoples, and the Declaration should now be considered formally by government when developing law, policy and practice in relation to Maori. Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres also supported the announcement. He said that the Commission had published a bilingual translation of the Declaration after it was adopted by the United Nations and used it as a framework in developing its recent discussion paper on Human Rights and the Treaty of Waitangi. “The two documents complement each other very well, and the Declaration provides international support to the Treaty’s emphasis, in its three articles, on responsible government, tino rangatiratanga and equal rights for all,” he said.


Trinidad News and Tobago News

http://news.bn.gs/article.php?story=20100419115752997

UN meets on indigenous issues

Monday, April 19 2010 @ 03:00 PM AST

The Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) began today at UN Headquarters in New York and will continue until April 30, 2010.

The two-week session will focus on the theme of “development with culture and identity”, specifically addressing Articles 3 and 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which guarantee indigenous peoples’ full and effective participation in development processes.

Other key issues that will be addressed include “indigenous peoples in North America” and “indigenous peoples and forests”. Almost 2,000 indigenous participants from all regions of the world will take part in the session, to engage with members of the Permanent Forum, Member States, UN agencies and civil society.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the opening session of the Forum in the UN General Assembly Hall today.

The Provisional Agenda was released as follows:

  1. Election of officers.
  2. Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.
  3. Discussion on the special theme for the year, Indigenous peoples: development with culture and identity: articles 3 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Human rights:
    1. Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
    2. Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and other special rapporteurs.
  5. Half-day discussion on North America.
  6. Comprehensive dialogue with six United Nations agencies and funds.
  7. Future work of the Permanent Forum, including issues of the Economic and Social Council and emerging issues.8. Draft agenda for the tenth session of the Permanent Forum.
  8. Adoption of the report of the Permanent Forum on its ninth session.

SCOOP, independent news

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1004/S00352.htm

UN forum on indigenous issues opens with Ban calling for respect for values

Tuesday, 20 April 2010, 9:16 am
Press Release: United Nations

19 April 2010 The annual United Nations forum on indigenous issues opened today with a call from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Member States to promote development while respecting the values and traditions of indigenous peoples.

The loss of irreplaceable cultural practices and means of artistic expression makes us all poorer, wherever our roots may lie, Mr. Ban told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. This years theme at the forum is Development with Culture and Identity.


http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1004/S00200.htm

Commission welcomes Govt support on UN Declaration

Tuesday, 20 April 2010, 10:50 am
Press Release: Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the Government’s support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, announced by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York today.

New Zealand was one of four countries that voted against the adoption of the Declaration in 2007, along with Australia, Canada and the United States. Since then, Australia has changed its position, and Canada has said it will review its stance.


http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1004/S00206.htm

UN Declaration Creates Two Countries – Peters

Tuesday, 20 April 2010, 4:12 pm
Press Release: New Zealand First Party

Signing a controversial United Nations declaration on indigenous rights is a huge mistake, according to Rt. Hon Winston Peters, who was Foreign Minister when New Zealand decided to reject the declaration.

Mr Peters said today he was shocked that National and the Maori party had secretly agreed to a deal to throw away New Zealand’s sovereignty and create what amounted to another state within a state.


http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1004/S00220.htm

Declaration Will Divide The Nation

Press Release by Hon Rodney Hide, ACT Leader
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

ACT Leader Rodney Hide said today he was appalled at the Government’s decision to covertly sign up to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights Of Indigenous Peoples, a document which asserts for Maori rights and privileges not enjoyed by other New Zealanders.

“The ACT Party believes that the declaration is divisive and will set New Zealand on a path to a further divided nation – separating New Zealand into two, rather than bringing us together. It is the very opposite of ACTs policy of one law for all New Zealanders,” Mr Hide said.


http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1004/S00384.htm

Amnesty Welcomes Support For Indigenous Rights

Tuesday, 20 April 2010, 2:10 pm
Press Release: Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the New Zealand Governments decision to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Amnesty International has campaigned vigorously for New Zealand to officially support the Declaration, which now reaffirms New Zealands commitment to advancing the human rights of Indigenous peoples.


New Zealand City News

http://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/article.aspx?id=113517&fm=newsmain,nrhl

Sharples’own party in thedark

Pita Sharples, Maori Affairs Min, forbidden from telling his colleagues he was delivering NZ’s support for Rights of Indigenous Peoples

20 April 2010
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says his trip to the United Nations to sign up to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was so secret he could not even tell his own party.

Dr Sharples delivered New Zealand’s support for the declaration in a speech at the United Nations in New York.

“I come with a humble heart to celebrate the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The New Zealand Government has long discussed this matter, and has recently decided to support it.

“So I salute the leaders and chiefs, the many peoples and groups who established the foundation of the Declaration, for assent by the Governments of the world.”

The non-binding agreement recognises the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, to maintain their own languages and cultures, to protect their natural and cultural heritage and manage their own affairs.

“Today’s announcement restores our mana and our moral authority to speak in international fora on issues of justice, rights and peace.

“It reflects well on the relationship between the National and Maori Parties that this Government has been able to endorse this important declaration. This is a small but significant step towards building better relationships between Maori and the Crown. I hope the same spirit of goodwill can guide us to a resolution of the foreshore and seabed issue, which has also raised concerns at the United Nations.”

Prime Minister John Key says although the declaration is non-binding, it affirms accepted rights and establishes future aspirations.

“My objective is to build better relationships between Maori and the Crown, and I believe that supporting the declaration is a small but significant step in that direction.

“This move will not compromise the fundamentals of this Government’s approach to resolving Treaty claims, and its work with Maori and all New Zealanders on the many challenges we face.”

Dr Sharples is disappointed he could not brief his colleagues on what he was about to tell the United Nations meeting but says he had to abide by Cabinet’s instructions.

“It represents a lot of emotion and a lot of hard work and dedication by New Zealanders and I just feel that I would have loved the opportunity to have shared this with them to allow them to even comment and be part of it.”

Dr Sharples says signing up to the declaration has great emotional meaning for Maori who were embarrassed at Helen Clark’s Labour government’s refusal in 2007 to show its support for indigenous people.

>> 2010NZCity, NewsTalkZB


New Zealand City News

http://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/article.aspx?id=113510&fm=newsmain,nrhl

NZsupporting indigenousrights

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples tells UN that NZ supports Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

20 April 2010
The Government is giving its support to the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples made the announcement in a speech to the UN in New York. The statement acknowledges Maori hold a special status as tangata whenua.

Prime Minister John Key says the Labour Government elected not to support the declaration because of difficulties around its goal to involve indigenous people in decision making and full reparation or restitution for wrongfully taken land and resources. Mr Key acknowledges those areas are challenging but says the declaration will help to build better relationships between Maori and the Crown. He believes it will not impact on the Treaty settlements process or the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The declaration is non-binding but Mr Key says it affirms accepted rights and establishes future aspirations.

“My objective is to build better relationships between Maori and the Crown, and I believe that supporting the declaration is a small but significant step in that direction.”

The previous Labour Government was one of four delegates which voted against the declaration in September 2007.

Interpress service News

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51108


Struggle for Native Rights Making Headway
By Haider Rizvi

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 19, 2010 (IPS) – International efforts to protect the rights of the world’s aboriginal communities seem to be gaining strength despite opposition from certain powers that continue to abuse native lands and resources in the name of development.

On Monday, as hundreds of indigenous leaders gathered here for the ninth annual session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the government of New Zealand declared it was ready to sign on to the international document that recognises native peoples’ right to self-determination.

“Today, New Zealand changes its position,” said Dr. Pita Sharples, minister of Maori affairs, in a statement pointing out that his country was ready to embrace the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

In September 2007, when majority of the U.N. General Assembly voted in favour of the Declaration, New Zealand chose to side with the United States, Canada, and Australia, the only three nations that vehemently opposed the text of that historic document.

The Declaration was opposed by these countries because it calls for states to acknowledge indigenous peoples right to self-determination and demands that private interests must obtain “prior and informed consent” from the natives for use of land for commercial and development purposes.

Recently, Australia not only signed on to the Declaration, but its government also apologised to the indigenous communities for injustices and unfair policies that previous governments had practiced and adopted over the past several decades.

In declaring support for the Declaration, the New Zealand minister acknowledged that native people must have full freedom to use their lands and resources as they wish and that they have a different concept of development from that of private corporations.

“I greet your mountains, your rivers, your lands (the places) where your ancestors originated, including you who are meeting here today,” he told the U.N. Forum on Indigenous Issues in a statement.

Indigenous leaders who are attending the forum described the shift in New Zealand and Australia’s policy as a positive sign for the struggle of indigenous peoples to protect their lands, resources, culture and languages.

“This is a wonderful occasion,” said Tonya Frichner, North American member of the Permanent Forum. She believes there are strong indications that both the United States and Canada would also change their stance on the Declaration and would soon be willing to sign on to it.

In response to a question from IPS about the implementation of the Declaration, which is not a legally binding document, Carlos Mamani Condori, the incoming chairman of the Forum, said despite slow progress, several government are taking positive steps.

In this context, he mentioned Bolivia and Ecuador, which have incorporated several articles of the Declaration text into their constitutions. Condori, a Bolivian national, criticised Western nations for failing to reach an agreement at last December’s climate change summit at Copenhagen, where members of indigenous communities were not allowed to fully participate in the negotiations.

He defended Bolivian President Evo Morales’s initiative to hold an international summit on the rights of Mother Earth, which is being attended by thousands of environmental and rights activists from around the world this week.

“This summit is for quality of human relation with Mother Earth,” he said, challenging the conventional view that climate change can be tackled by means of trading carbon “credits”. “We are suffering the worst consequences of climate change.”

In response to a question about poverty among indigenous communities, he said: “The mining industries are destroying our lands. That is not development. The colonisers came to our lands because we were rich, not poor.”

In January, the U.N. released its first-ever report on the State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, setting out some alarming statistics on poverty, health problems, crimes and human rights facing the indigenous communities.

“In some countries, an indigenous person is 600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis than the general population. In others, an indigenous child can expect to die 20 years earlier than his non-native compatriots,” the report said.

In a statement at the opening of the forum, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the living conditions of many indigenous peoples as “a tragedy for the whole world”.

Expressing solidarity with native communities, he urged the world community to promote development measures in a way that do not violate indigenous people’s values and traditions.

“We need development that underpinned by the values of reciprocity, solidarity and collectivity,” he said. “We need development that allows people to exercise their right to self-determination through participation in decision-making on an equal level.”

The Permanent Forum will meet until the end of this month. It is due to focus on issues related to the native peoples of North America in particular, and those surrounding the question of indigenous peoples’ rights to their resources.


The Gisborne Herald

http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/article/?id=16920

20 Apr, 2010

Rights declaration a small but significant step in right direction

Adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important step on the road to a mature and optimistic Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Waking up to the news Pita Sharples had announced our support for the declaration to a standing ovation at United Nations headquarters in New York was a surprise to almost everyone.

A month ago Dr Sharples said the Government had agreed to support the declaration but with too many caveats attached.

Asked in Canada last week about the possibility of New Zealand adopting the declaration, Prime Minister John Key said dont hold your breath.

When it came into being in September 2007, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Canada were the only countries to reject the declaration.

Our neighbours signed up in April last year. The Canadians announced on March 3 this year they were moving to endorse it.

Dr Sharples this morning said the Government had been working on how to frame the declaration within New Zealands existing laws for the past year.

He seemed happy with the final outcome and said it reflected well on the relationship between the National and Maori parties.

Along with the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the Whanau Ora programme, this is a third major achievement for a party that worried many of its supporters when it joined National in the coalition Government.

It was a pity Foreign Minister Murray McCully was the first National minister to be questioned on National Radio today, by a presenter seeking a negative take by asking what the partys supporters would think.

Mr McCully chose to stress the caveats that would come with the adoption of the declaration.

Mr Keys statement this morning showed a much better ear for the future of New Zealand: My objective is to build better relationships between Maori and the Crown, and I believe that supporting the declaration is a small but significant step in that direction.


Indian Country today

http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/global/undeclaration/91543409.html

New Zealand supports the UN Declaration

By Valerie Taliman, Today correspondent

Story Published: Apr 19, 2010

Story Updated: Apr 19, 2010

NEW YORK On the opening day of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, New Zealand made a surprise announcement that it has changed its position and is now supporting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Following opening statements by the UN secretary general and a traditional welcoming and prayer by the Maori delegation, Minister of Maori Affairs Dr. Pita Sharples addressed the General Assembly and more than 1,000 indigenous delegates.

In September 2007, 143 countries voted in favor of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. New Zealand was one of the countries that voted against it. Today, New Zealand changes its position. We are pleased to express our support of the Declaration, he said.

The General Assembly chamber erupted in applause and a standing ovation at this reversal. When the Declaration was adopted Sept. 13, 2007, only four nations opposed it Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Since then, Australia has adopted it and Canada has indicated it is moving toward support.

Now only the United States remains opposed to the adoption of the Declaration, an important human rights mechanism that sets minimum standards for protections of indigenous peoples.

However, in an unprecedented development, the United States announced it is sending a 20-member delegation to the UNPFII led by UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Under the Bush administration, the State Department sent only one or two interns.


http://www.guide2.co.nz/politics/news/un-declaration-divides-government-support-parties/11/15748

UN declaration divides Government support parties

Tuesday, 20 April 2010 – 6:04pm

Wellington, April 20 NZPA – ACT leader Rodney Hide has lashed out at National for giving New Zealand’s support of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous people, calling it an appalling act that would divide the country and saying it breached the agreement between the two parties.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples flew to New York without publicly revealing he was to make a speech overnight announcing New Zealand would endorse the declaration.

The previous Labour Government had refused to sign, saying it was incompatible with New Zealand’s constitution, legal framework and the Treaty of Waitangi.

National ministers described it as an aspirational document and was not legally binding.

In a heated debate in Parliament, Mr Hide launched into National.

“The ACT party is both shocked and appalled to find itself supporting a Government that has covertly signed up to the UN declaration.”

Mr Hide said the declaration asserted that Maori had rights and privileges not enjoyed by other New Zealanders.

It was the opposite of ACT’s belief of one law for all and would divide New Zealand.

He said it was naive to believe the declaration would have no legal effect and was angry that there had been no consultation with ACT.

“I am very disappointed that the prime minister has failed to honour our no surprises policy set out in the ACT/National agreement.”

The Maori Party was delighted, with MP Hone Harawira saying it would lift the spirit of Maori that they acknowledged the rights of Maori.

“This country recognises the rights of women, the rights of workers, the rights of dogs, great that they can finally get around to recognising the rights of indigenous people.”

Mr Harawira said he was not disappointed that it would not be legally binding.

“That was part of the whole declaration process, we all knew that going in, that was why we were so disappointed that Labour wouldn’t do it when they had the opportunity.

“It was an aspirational document, we all knew that its implications in terms of domestic law was always going to be very limited but the question then has to be asked why didn’t Labour do it.”

Mr Harawira believed the Government’s backing would help treaty claims and other matters such as ownership of the foreshore and seabed.

Labour leader Phil Goff said Mr Hide’s comments marked a change in relations between National and its support parties.

“This is, I think, a point where the Government has not been able to resolve its contradictions. It has said one thing, it has tried to marry together forces which are totally opposed to each other and it has come out with something it says is meaningless. The Maori Party is trying to claim a great victory and the ACT party says it is a disgrace,” Mr Goff said.

“I think it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold together the forces that are supporting the Government.”

Mr Goff said a literal implementation of the declaration would see all land returned to Maori and them given veto right.

The Government attached a statement to the declaration making it clear that New Zealand was committed to the common objectives of the declaration and the Treaty of Waitangi and that existing legal and constitutional frameworks that underpinned New Zealand’s legal system would define the bounds of engagement with the declaration.

Mr Key said it “was a nice touch” Dr Sharples was able to make announcement at UN when asked about the secrecy around the visit as for a long time the Government had made it clear it wanted to affirm the declaration and there had been “no secret” about that.

NZPA PAR il mt kc pw kn


Pacific Scoop

http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2010/04/new-zealand-joins-australia-and-pacific-nations-in-backing-un-indigenous-rights-declaration/

New Zealand joins Australia and Pacific nations in backing UN indigenous rights declaration

13:09 April 20, 2010

United Nations Plaza, New York City. (Photo by Selwyn Manning, courtesy of Scoop.co.nz.)

Pacific Scoop:
Report By Pacific Media Centre news desk.

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has called on all governments and indigenous peoples to support the UNs declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. The call came on the day New Zealand finally signed up to the Bill.

In 2007, New Zealand was one of four nations out of 147 that voted against the declaration. The others voting against the declaration were: Australia, Canada, and the United States of America. Australia later signed up to the bill, after the Rudd Labor Government was elected.

Back then New Zealand argued that the declaration was non-binding and therefore toothless with the then Labour-led governments Maori Affairs minister, Parekura Horomia stating: The declaration adopted in the UN yesterday is in effect a wish list which fails to bind states to any of its provisions.

Horomia said in 2007: Our government has worked extremely hard over a number of years to help forge a declaration which protects and promotes the rights of indigenous peoples in a meaningful way and which states could actually implement, Mr Horomia said.

He said the declaration did neither and while we are proud of our efforts, we are deeply disappointed with the final result which we could not support.

But today, the current National-led Governments Maori Affairs minister, Dr Pita Sharples said the declaration must be supported and it reflects New Zealands attempts to address indigenous rights, even though the declaration remains a non-binding UN bill.

Dr Sharples said the former New Zealand governments decision in 2007 was a great disappointment to Maori. He said the Labour-led governments vote against the declaration called into the question the previous governments commitment to Crown-Maori relationships based on the Treaty of Waitangi. It also undermined New Zealands credibility on human rights in the eyes of the world, he said.

While the current New Zealand prime minister, John Key, said the declaration will have not practical effect, Dr Sharples said: Todays announcement restores our mana and our moral authority to speak in international fora on issues of justice, rights and peace.

In a document tabled at the United Nations, Dr Sharples stated: The Declaration is an historic achievement: the result of many years of discussions 22 years in fact and of hard work and perseverance by many people. I acknowledge the long involvement of M?ori in the elaboration of the Declaration and the extent of their investment in its development.

In a speech overnight to the United Nations forum, secretary general Ban Ki-moon said: Indigenous cultures, languages and ways of life are under constant threat from climate change, armed conflict, lack of educational opportunities and discrimination, the Secretary-General highlighted in todays speech.

Elsewhere, your cultures are being distorted, commodified, and used to generate profits which do not benefit indigenous people, and can even lead to harm, Ban said.

The declaration is being debated at the United Nations in New York where over 2000 indigenous representatives from around the world have gathered to take part in a two-week-long meeting.

The session will focus on guarantees in the declaration that asserts indigenous peoples have full and effective participation in development processes and will include discussion on relationships between North American indigenous peoples and forests.

Bing Pong News

http://bigpondnews.com/articles/Politics/2010/04/20/NZ_signs_on_rights_of_indigenous_people_453232.html


NZ signs on rights of indigenous people

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 03:46pm

The NZ Prime Minister says UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people will not affect NZ’s laws.

New Zealand’s decision to sign up to a UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people will have no practical effect on the country’s laws, the Prime Minister John Key says.

New Zealand announced at the United Nations on Monday that it would sign the 2007 declaration on human rights, land and resources, reversing a decision taken by the previous government.

‘When we read out our affirmation statement we made it quite clear that nothing in the statement supersedes our laws or our constitution,’ Key told reporters in Wellington on Tuesday.

Key said the declaration was ‘a non-binding aspirational goal’ and would have no practical effect on the country’s laws.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully told Radio New Zealand the government had followed the lead of other countries in stating there were parts of the declaration which would not be implemented.

‘This is the practice that’s been adopted by other countries that have recently adopted the declaration as well – it’s to adopt it in principle and then make it clear that there are some (aspects) of their national agenda that cause them to do things differently.’

New Zealand officials said in 2007 that an article in the declaration giving indigenous people the right to own, develop or control their traditional lands could have potentially covered the whole of New Zealand.

The indigenous Maori lost most of their traditional lands through land sales or confiscations, and a settlement process to provide them compensation in some cases is continuing.

Maori people make up about 15 per cent of the mostly ethnic European population of 4.3 million. On average, they have poorer health, income and education, and higher rates of imprisonment than other citizens.

Maori Affairs Minister, Pita Sharples, travelled to the United Nations in New York to announce on Monday that New Zealand would sign the declaration.

When the declaration was adopted in 2007, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US were the only countries to vote against it.

Australia said last year it had reversed its decision and would endorse the declaration.

Tonya Gonnella Frichner, the North American representative on the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said Monday that Canada was also moving toward adopting the declaration and expressed hope that US President Barack Obama would keep his election campaign pledge to endorse it.


3News

http://www.3news.co.nz/NZ-supports-declaration-on-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/tabid/419/articleID/151854/Default.aspx

NZ supports declaration on rights of indigenous peoples

Dept Prime Minister Bill English receives a Hongi by Pita Sharples Minister of Maori affairs (NZPA file)

Tue, 20 Apr 2010 5:40a.m.

The Government has decided to support a United Nations declaration which sets out the rights of indigenous peoples, something Labour wouldn’t do and which the Maori Party has been strongly advocating.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples announced the decision at the UN in New York early this morning, saying the non-binding Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples set standards for all nations to aspire to.

It recognises the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, to maintain their own languages and cultures, to protect their natural heritage and manage their own affairs.

Although it has no legal status, the previous government opposed it because some of its provisions were considered contrary to the process used to settle Treaty of Waitangi claims.

New Zealand was one of only four UN member states opposed to the declaration, and Dr Sharples said that had been “a great disappointment” to Maori.

In a speech to the UN’s Forum on Indigenous Issues, he said the declaration was “entirely consistent” with the Treaty of Waitangi.

“Today’s announcement restores our mana and our moral authority to speak in international fora on issues of justice, rights and peace,” Dr Sharples said.

“It reflects well on the relationship between the National and Maori parties that this Government has been able to endorse this important declaration.”

Prime Minister John Key said in a statement New Zealand had always supported the overall aspirations of the declaration and most of its provisions had already been implemented.

“As a government, we can be proud of the fact that we have worked through any difficulties supporting the declaration have presented,” he said.

“While the declaration is non-binding, it both affirms accepted rights and establishes future aspirations.

“My objective is to build better relationships between Maori and the Crown, and I believe that supporting the declaration is a small but significant step in that direction.”

Mr Key said supporting the declaration would not compromise the fundamentals of the Government’s approach to resolving treaty claims.

UN member states do not sign up to or ratify non-binding declarations such as this one, and the Government’s statement of support is the end of the matter.

In summary, the statement of support:

* Acknowledges that Maori hold a special status as tangata whenua, the indigenous people of New Zealand, and have an interest in all policy and legislative matters;

* Affirms New Zealand’s commitment to the common objectives of the declaration and the Treaty of Waitangi; and

* Reaffirms the legal and constitutional frameworks that underpin New Zealand’s legal system, nothing that those existing frameworks define the bounds of New Zealand’s engagement with the declaration.

NZPA


TV NZ news

http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/govt-support-un-declaration-3474793

Sharples: UN charter restores mana

Published: 5:54AM Tuesday April 20, 2010

Source: NZPA

New Zealand’s support of United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous people comes with caveats.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples flew to New York without publicly revealing he was to make a speech overnight announcing New Zealand will sign up to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The previous Labour Government had refused to sign, saying it was incompatible with New Zealand’s constitution, legal framework and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Also it raised concerns that indigenous people would have more rights than the non-indigenous.

In his statement, which cabinet minister Simon Power will re-read to parliament on Tuesday, Sharples set out areas where New Zealand will keep its own processes.

The statement of support says:

Maori held a special status as tangata whenua, the indigenous people of New Zealand, and had an interest in all policy and legislative matters;

New Zealand was committed to the common objectives of the declaration and the Treaty of Waitangi; and it reaffirmed the legal and constitutional frameworks that underpinned New Zealand’s legal system, noting that those existing frameworks defined the bounds of engagement with the declaration.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully told Radio New Zealand that New Zealand has followed the lead of other countries in stating areas where it will not follow the non-binding declaration.

“This is the practice that’s been adopted by other countries that have recently adopted the declaration as well; it’s to adopt it in principal and then make it clear that there are some (aspects) of their national agenda that cause them to do things differently.”

Sharples, also a Maori Party co-leader, says after negotiation his party and the government have come to a position they can both accept.

Sharples last month gave a speech in which he says issues affecting Maori had put pressure on his party’s support arrangement with the government and says it had agreed to support the declaration, but with too many caveats attached.

On Tuesday morning Sharples seemed happy with the final outcome and is pleased with the standing ovation his speech received at the UN.

Sharples says the government has agreed to review the status of the Treaty in the country’s constitution and that is about to happen.

The declaration recognises the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, to maintain their own languages and cultures, to protect their natural heritage and manage their own affairs.

New Zealand was, until now, one of only four UN member states opposed to the declaration, and Sharples says that had been “a great disappointment” to Maori.

In his speech to the UN’s Forum on Indigenous Issues, Sharples says the declaration is “entirely consistent” with the Treaty of Waitangi.

“Today’s announcement restores our mana and our moral authority to speak in international fora on issues of justice, rights and peace,” Sharples says.

“It reflects well on the relationship between the National and Maori parties that this Government has been able to endorse this important declaration.”

Prime Minister John Key says in a statement New Zealand has always supported the overall aspirations of the declaration and most of its provisions have already been implemented.

Key says supporting the declaration will not compromise the fundamentals of the government’s approach to resolving treaty claims.


San Francisco Chronicle

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/04/20/MNRV1D0SRF.DTL

WORLD News of the Day From Across the Globe /

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Indigenous rights: New Zealand on Monday announced its support for a U.N. declaration protecting the rights of more than 370 million native peoples worldwide, and the United States is set to announce that it will review its opposition to the declaration. The declaration affirms the equality of indigenous peoples and their right to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions. When the General Assembly adopted the declaration in September 2007, there were four opponents – the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – who argued that it was incompatible with their existing laws.

Democracy Now

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/20/headlines/new_zealand_signs_un_declaration_of_indigenous_rights


New Zealand Signs UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights

New Zealand has become one of the last holdout countries to ratify the UN declaration of indigenous rights, leaving only the US and Canada in opposition. New Zealand cabinet member Pita Sharples announced the move on Monday.

Pita Sharples: I come with humble heart to celebrate the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. The New Zealand government has long discussed this matter and has recently decided to support it.

The UN General Assembly passed the sweeping declaration granting native peoples the right to self-determination in 2007 with an overwhelming 143 votes in favor. New Zealand was one of only four countries to vote against the declaration, along with the US, Australia and Canada. Australia has also reversed its position.


Two Circles

http://twocircles.net/2010apr20/un_forum_indigenous_issues_opens.html

UN forum on indigenous issues opens

Submitted by admin4 on 20 April 2010 – 4:45pm.

By IRNA,

Tehran : The annual United Nations forum on indigenous issues opened Monday with a call from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for member states to promote development while respecting the values and traditions of indigenous peoples.

The loss of irreplaceable cultural practices and means of artistic expression makes us all poorer, wherever our roots may lie, Ban told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. This years theme at the forum is Development with Culture and Identity.

I call on all governments, indigenous peoples, the UN system and all other partners to ensure that the vision behind the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples becomes a reality for all, the secretary-general added.

Bans call comes as New Zealand announced Monday that it will reverse its decision and support the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. New Zealand was one of four countries the others being Australia, Canada and the United States that voted against the Declaration in 2007. Australia reversed its decision last year.

The landmark document outlines the rights of the worlds estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlaws discrimination against them. A non-binding text, the declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues, a press release issued by the UN Information Center (UNIC) said here on Tuesday.

Some 2,000 indigenous representatives are estimated to take part in the two-week meeting, which include member states, UN agencies and civil society groups. During the forum, participants will focus on Articles 3 and 32 of the declaration, which guarantee indigenous peoples full and effective participation in development processes, including thorough consultation in the establishment of development programs and policies.

The agenda also includes topics related to indigenous peoples of North America and the relationship between indigenous peoples and forests. The side events during the forum include a special screening of the film Avatar and an exhibit in the UN Headquarters lobby entitled Indigenous Peoples and Self-Determination.

Indigenous cultures, languages and ways of life are under constant threat from climate change, armed conflict, lack of educational opportunities and discrimination, the secretary-general highlighted in the speech. Elsewhere, your cultures are being distorted, commodified, and used to generate profits which do not benefit indigenous people, and can even lead to harm.

Indigenous peoples make up five per cent of the worlds population, but some 33 per cent of the worlds poor, according to State of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples, released in January and the first UN report of its kind. Of the some 7,000 languages being spoken today, more than 4,000 are spoken by indigenous peoples. Language specialists predict that up to 90 per cent of the worlds languages are likely to become extinct or threatened with extinction by the end of the century, eroding an essential component of a groups identity, the secretary-general said.

The Morung Express

http://www.morungexpress.com/frontpage/47578.html


Respect Indigenous people

Dimapur | April 20 :The annual United Nations Permanent Forum on indigenous issues opened on Monday with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging member states to promote development and respect indigenous cultures and traditions. A significant highlight to Moons call was the Government of New Zealand announcing that it would reverse its decision and support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he attaches great importance to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007. In that landmark document, member-states and indigenous peoples had reconciled with their painful histories and had resolved to move forward together towards human rights, justice and development for all.
An observation on Moons statement was also made by Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights. A representative from NPMHR is currently attending the UN session. The United Nations had made significant progress on indigenous issues over the past 40 years, including the establishment of the forum itself, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
And yet, we can not even begin to be content with our progress, Moon cautioned, noting that the first-ever United Nations report on the State of the Worlds Indigenous People, released in January, had revealed alarming statistics. The report stated that indigenous people suffer high levels of poverty, health problems, crime and human rights abuses, primarily resulting from armed conflicts all over the world.
Every day, indigenous communities face issues of violence, brutality and dispossession, Moon said. Indigenous cultures, languages and ways of life are under constant threat from climate change, armed conflict, lack of educational opportunities and discrimination, he said. The UN chief said that their cultures are being distorted, commoditized, and used to generate profits which do not benefit indigenous people, and can even lead to harm. This is not only a tragedy for indigenous people. It is a tragedy for the whole world, he declared.
Indigenous (peoples) issues are more prominent on the international agenda than ever before.
And yet, we cannot even begin to be content with our progress, Moon said adding the United Nations is working to make sure that indigenous people themselves are not isolated. You have a unique place in the global community. You are full and equal members of the United Nations family, he added.
The secretary generals call was followed later by the announcement by Pita Sharples, New Zealands Minister of Maori Affairs, that the New Zealand government would reverse its decision and support the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
New Zealand was one of four countries the others being Australia, Canada and the United States that voted against the Declaration in 2007. Australia reversed its decision last year. Greeted with enthusiastic applause, he said: We are pleased to express our support for the Declaration as both an affirmation of fundamental rights and an expression of new and widely supported aspirations.


Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

http://www.unpo.org/content/view/11013/88/

UNPO Members at UNPFII 2010

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Starting on 19 April 2010, The Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) held in New York is offering indigenous peoples the opportunity to highlight issues on the topic of development with culture and identity. A vast array of UNPO members will be in attendance including representatives from the Ahwazi Arabs, Crimean Tartars, Maasai, Khmer Krom and Degar-Montagnards.

Despite cultural differences, indigenous peoples around the world share similar challenges in asserting their rights as distinct peoples with unique needs. This was a fundamental motivation for the establishment of a permanent forum for indigenous peoples which held its first meeting in May 2002. The UNPFII is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council which meets annually for two weeks in New York to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. Focusing on articles 3 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the 2010 meeting will explore how the rights to development is often denied as indigenous people face historical injustices, discrimination, marginalization, and dispossession from their lands and resources.

As part of the UNPFII, UNPO is facilitating a side event on Wednesday 21st April entitled Water Politics: Impacts on disenfranchised communities which will illustrate how the control of water in light of water scarcity, power relations and historical circumstances has in some cases become a political tool which impounds the oppression experienced by UNPO members. From the construction of dams and diversion of rivers – to the management of ports and access to fishing rights; access to water is a pressing issue for many indigenous populations. This event intends to highlight the significance of ensuring the voices of the marginalized are not drowned out in discussions about the management of the world’s most precious resource.

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