Declaration action alert     Declaration supporters register     Declaration petition

What you can do to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

If you would like to share the details of your initiative/s to support the Declaration, please send a description to Peace Movement Aotearoa and we will add them to this page.

There are two sections below with some suggestions about what you can do to support the Declaration:

    a) ideas for organisations, including details of the online register of organisations that support the Declaration; and

    b) suggestions for things everyone can do - collectively or individually - including information about the petition to parliament, and points you could include when lobbying and writing to politicians.

  a) What organisations can do

Below are some ideas for what organisations can do to support the Declaration.

  • Familiarise yourself with the Declaration

Links to the text in English, te reo Maori, and a bilingual document are available here.

  • Help distribute copies of the Declaration

Have copies available in your office (if you have one), and at your public meetings; advertise its availability in your newsletters or other publications.

  • Add your organisation's name to the online register of Declaration supporters

The online register has been established to make the level of support for the Declaration in Aotearoa New Zealand more visible. It is a list of organisations that support the Declaration and are calling on the government to do the same. To add your organisation to the register, please send a message to Peace Movement Aotearoa with your details. If publicly registering your support requires a decision of your governing body, Annual General Meeting or Hui a Tau, then please raise this as soon as you can - aside from anything else, it is a good opportunity to increase awareness about the Declaration.

  • Make your views publicly known

Make your views known publicly in media releases, or statements about your support for the Declaration. These could be tied to particular organisational events, for example your Annual General Meeting, Hui a Tau, annual conference or similar; or they could be linked to relevant anniversaries or other significant days - around the first anniversary of the General Assembly's adoption of the Declaration (13 September), United Nations Day (24 October), the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence (28 October), or Human Rights Day (10 December), for example.

  • Other ways organisations can support the Declaration

Help distribute and collect signatures for the petition to parliament, lobby and write to Members of Parliament - information about these actions is below.

  b) What everyone can do

  • Distribute and collect signatures for the petition to parliament

The petition is addressed to the House of Representatives and reads as follows:

"Around the world, indigenous peoples continue to be subjected to grave and persistent violations of their fundamental human rights, including genocide. On 13 September 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a move described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a triumph for justice and human dignity.

When adopting the Declaration, the General Assembly stated its conviction "that the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in this Declaration will enhance harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and indigenous peoples, based on principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith." One hundred and forty three UN member states voted in favour of the Declaration - the NZ government was one of only four that voted against it. NZ is now one of only three governments that continue to oppose it.

The Declaration provides minimum standards of protection for the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples. It does not create any special or new rights; rather it applies already existing human rights to the particular circumstances of indigenous peoples. Its adoption by the General Assembly is an indication of the international community's commitment to the promotion and protection of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples.

We, the undersigned, are deeply disappointed by the government's ongoing opposition to the Declaration. It is unreasonable and unjust. It places NZ in a tiny minority of states that are ignoring their obligations under international law, and it makes a mockery of the government's claims to be a principled defender of human rights and a credible candidate for the UN Human Rights Council.

We therefore call on the government to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to announce this in the General Assembly at the earliest possible opportunity."

Please help to publicise, distribute and collect signatures for the petition - as it is a petition to parliament, signatures can only be accepted if they are on the Declaration petition form. It is available online here, by email, or you can get paper copies from Peace Movement Aotearoa. Thirteen hundred and fifteen signatures were presented to parliament Human Rights Day 2008 - photos and speech notes are available here. Additional signatures on the petition will be presented next year, so please keep collecting over the summer! The final deadline for return of signatures is 15 April 2009.

  • Lobby and write to MPs

Please take the time to lobby and write to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and your MP - particularly if s/he is from a party opposed to the Declaration (at the moment, all parties except for the Maori Party and Green Party); contact details for politicians are below.

As well as your own points, you could include some from the previous sections of this action alert - if you do not have much time, something brief including these points (or points from the petition text) would be fine:

  • the Declaration is an important step forward for human rights and it will assist with addressing the widespread human rights violations against indigenous peoples around the world;
  • the government's position on the Declaration is unreasonable and unjust, and it was decided without proper consultation with Maori;
  • the Declaration is entirely consistent with both the Treaty of Waitangi and NZ's existing obligations under international law, and is a reflection of the overwhelming majority opinion of the international community;
  • the government must therefore demonstrate its often stated commitment to human rights by supporting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and announcing this in the General Assembly at the earliest possible opportunity.

* Contact details for politicians: John Key, Prime Minister, email; Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs, email; letters to any MP should be posted to Freepost Parliament, Private Bag 18-888, Wellington 6160. Other contact details for MPs are available here or by phoning Parliament, tel (04) 471 9999.

It is very helpful for our work if you can send a copy of any letter, fax, or message you send, and of any replies you receive, to: Peace Movement Aotearoa, PO Box 9314, Wellington 6141; fax (04) 382 8173; or bcc to email.

Peace Movement Aotearoa   |   Indigenous peoples' rights