About a month ago the global indigenous peoples’ struggle reached a milestone.
Here are some comments and resources collected and followed by a brief reflection.
First from Resistance Studies:
“The United Nations have overwhelmingly approved the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: after over a decade of negotiations, and a year of Canada trying to stall the final vote on it in the General Assembly” says Nicole Scabus, the International Advisor of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade.
(contd.) “The international consensus [is] that indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination, land rights, and collective human rights. On this day of historic importance, that can be compared to December 10, 1948 when the United Nations approved the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, 158 nations participated in the vote in the presence of even more indigenous nations and 143 nations voted in favour – 11 abstained and 4 voted against it, namely: Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. The whole of Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe stands behind the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Nicole Scabus adds that: “We now have a UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples that recognizes the universal human and indigenous rights of indigenous peoples, first and foremost the right to self-determination. Congratulations to all indigenous peoples – this is a day to celebrate!”.
– and from the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA):
“With an overwhelming majority of 143 votes in favour, only 4 negative votes cast (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States) and 11 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly (GA) adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13, 2007. The Declaration has been negotiated through more than 20 years between nation-states and Indigenous Peoples. Les Malezer, Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus, welcomed the adoption of the Declaration in a statement to the General Assembly:
“The Declaration does not represent solely the viewpoint of the United Nations, nor does it represent solely the viewpoint of the Indigenous Peoples. It is a Declaration which combines our views and interests and which sets the framework for the future. It is a tool for peace and justice, based upon mutual recognition and mutual respect.”
Find all the official information here: UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES – Adopted by the General Assembly 13 September 2007.
But what does it mean that there is a declaration? Well, it is a declaration, at best, by some, of intent. It is an ideal, a set of principles – some ideas about freedom, autonomy, dignity articulated. Just like human rights – and so the practical work to realise these ideals continue, because the declaration is merely an abstract motion – the movement must continue to rise from the grass-roots to bring about the world (or political) model that taking any declaration seriously necessitates.
The struggle continues, in other words.