International Indigenous Peoples' Rights Movement
8 December 2005
Leading indigenous peoples' non-governmental organisations, including the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA), today expressed profound concern about New Zealand's proposed amendments to the article on indigenous peoples' right to self-determination in the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
States and indigenous peoples are currently negotiating the Draft Declaration at the UN in Geneva.
The New Zealand Government (in conjunction with the United States and Australia) proposed changes to limit the indigenous peoples' right to self-determination to rights of self-management. AILA representative, Kent Lebsock, described the proposal as an "assault on the human rights of all Indigenous peoples" and "discriminatory, colonial and racist".
The Governments' position undermines emerging consensus between states and indigenous peoples on an indigenous peoples' right to self-determination, and falls below existing international legal standards. It also discriminates against indigenous peoples.
New Zealand's proposed amendments are consistent with its increasingly hostile approach to indigenous peoples' rights under international law. In March 2005, the Government criticised the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination's finding that the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2003 is discriminatory. It has also indicated that it will reject negative findings by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and indigenous peoples conflicting with governmental policy.