Australia adopts UN Indigenous declaration

Australia (UCTP Taino News) – In an historic moment in Australia’s relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the government officially adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at a ceremony this morning at its Parliament House. This action reverses the decision of the previous Government who voted against the Declaration in 2007.

The Declaration was adopted at the United Nations by all but four countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. It contains 46 articles outlining Indigenous people's rights in international law, but it is not legally binding and cannot override domestic law.

Noting the importance of meeting the standards set out in the Declaration, Australian Aboriginal leader Professor Mick Dodson said "The value of human rights is not in their existence, it's in their implementation."

The new Australian decision could have an impact on at least one of the other countries still not supporting the Declaration.

On March 31, New Zealand’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Key stated that his government will look at the way the Australian Government interprets the Declaration and “see whether its interpretation is applicable in New Zealand.”

A petition calling on the New Zealand government to support the UN Declaration is now being promoted by Peace Movement Aotearoa.

No comments have been issued as yet from the governments of Canada and the United States with regard to Australia’s new position on the Declaration.

UCTPTN 04.03.2009

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