Blog: EarthSpirit
by Mayah

Rights of Indigenous People

In 2010, President Obama announced that the United States changed its position on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the U.S. currently supports the U.N. Declaration. The United States, under the leadership of President George W. Bush, was one of a handful of countries to refrain from backing the U.N. Declaration when it was passed in 2007.

Date:   9/22/2012 5:55:01 PM   ( 11 y ) ... viewed 1812 times

 UNITED STATES:  "In response to the many calls from Native Americans throughout this country and in order to further U.S. policy on indigenous issues, President Obama announced that the United States has changed its position on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration). The United States supports the Declaration, which—while not legally binding or a statement of current international law—has both moral and political force. It expresses both the aspirations of indigenous peoples around the world and those of States in seeking to improve their relations with indigenous peoples. Most importantly, it expresses aspirations of the United States, aspirations that this country seeks to achieve within the structure of the U.S. Constitution, laws, and international obligations, while also seeking, where appropriate, to improve our laws and policies.

U.S. support for the Declaration goes hand in hand with the U.S. commitment to address the consequences of a history in which, as President Obama recognized, ―few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans—our First Americans.

That commitment is reflected in the many policies and programs that are being implemented by U.S. agencies in response to concerns raised by Native Americans, including poverty, unemployment, environmental degradation, health care gaps, violent crime, and discrimination."

Entire statement (15 page PDF)




SUMMARY: "The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007. The Declaration is the most comprehensive statement of the rights of indigenous peoples ever developed, giving prominence to collective rights to a degree unprecedented in international human rights law. It emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to live in dignity, to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their self-determined development, in keeping with their needs and aspirations. The adoption of this Declaration is the clearest indication yet that the international community is committing itself to the protection of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous people are the inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to other people and to the environment. Indigenous people have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, the various groups of indigenous people around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.

Estimates point to more than 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries worldwide. While they are from diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds, they share challenges such as lack of basic health care, limited access to education, loss of control over land, discrimination, forced assimilation, abject poverty, displacement, human rights violations, and economic and social marginalization.

Indigenous people around the world have sought recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources; yet throughout history, their rights have been violated. Indigenous peoples are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world today. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples."

"While as a General Assembly Declaration it is not a legally binding instrument under international law, according to a UN press release, it does 'represent the dynamic development of international legal norms and it reflects the commitment of the UN's member states to move in certain directions'; the UN describes it as setting 'an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet's 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalisation."


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