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Foreign Affairs: NZ government's position on the
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Below is the text of a letter received from Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs, that sets out the NZ government's deplorable position on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the Human Rights Council on 29 June by a vote of 30 in favour, 2 against, and 12 abstentions. This is the reply from Mr Peters to a letter from an individual who wrote to him in response to our action alert Act today for indigenous peoples' rights.

If you would like to contact Mr Peters about this, his details are: email, fax (04) 471 2042, or Freepost Parliament, PO Box 18-888, Wellington.


17 July 2006

"New Zealand's position on the text for the declaration has been articulated on many occasions. It has not changed during the eleven years of the negotiations in Geneva. Furthermore, the government has engaged with interested Maori and others on the Declaration repeatedly during that time. Feedback from these discussions informed the development of the government's policy which was determined by Cabinet.

The fact that the small number of those who have been interested in this issue in New Zealand have tended to support a position of no change to the original and unacceptable text has limited the opportunities for a meaningful or constructive engagement.

New Zealand will not be in a position to support the text of the declaration, which was adopted by a less than decisive vote by the members of the Human Rights Council recently in Geneva. We worked hard to get a text that all countries could support and implement. Unfortunately, the text that has been adopted is not consistent with international law, is potentially discriminatory and is not capable of being implemented by States because many of its provisions are unworkable.

This was not the outcome New Zealand and other countries such as Canada, Australia and the United States wanted. It is deeply disappointing that the world's indigenous peoples have been delivered a second rate outcome and one that does not enjoy consensus internationally. "

Yours sincerely,
Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs.


26 June 2006

Dear Minister Peters,

I am writing regarding New Zealand's position on the Draft Declaration of Indigenous Rights. It is painfully apparent that the New Zealand Government is not acting in good faith with regard to this Declaration. The obstinacy and intolerance being employed by the government is seriously compromising both New Zealand's international reputation on human rights and internal relationships with Maori.

I would strongly urge you to reconsider New Zealand's position on the draft declaration. The NZ government's position on the draft Declaration is inconsistent with obligations under international law, in particular as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 3 of both Covenants requires the promotion of the realization of the right of self-determination.

I would appreciate a reply to this letter as soon as possible.

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