African States Jeopardize Passage of UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

United Nations (UCTP News) – The United Nations Third Committee of the General Assembly is meeting to discuss the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights ofIndigenous Peoples. While many states favor the adoption of the Declaration, several countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Russia have gone on record to take a hard line approach against it. This group is now being referred to as the CANZUS group.

Within the UN system, Indigenous Peoples have historically counted on African states to support their issues. This dynamic is now shifting as some of the African governments are now tabling a resolution asking for the postponement ofthe Declaration's adoption.

"The African Governments seem to have been pressured by [the CANZUS] group of countries to push their agenda." stated Vicky Tauli-Corpuz,the Chairperson of UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Tauli-Corpuz also noted that "China, India, Philippines, Nepal, etc. spoke in favor of [the Declaration's] adoption but there might still be Asian countries who will support the African resolution."

In a November 15th communication issued by the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at the United Nations, the group states "the world's Indigenous Peoples [are calling] on states from Asia and the Caribbean not to support the procedural motion put forth by the African states to defer the decision on the Declaration.

Lobbying efforts are now being directed toward government capitals to urge them to support a resolution from Peru, co-sponsored by many governments, calling for the adoption of this long awaited human rights document.

The Declaration is described as a "standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect".

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