Initiative on the UN Declaration
21 August 2006
As you may be aware, after more than 20 years of negotiations, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in June 2006. It is now being sent to the United Nations General Assembly for adoption at the end of this year.
Most indigenous peoples' organisations and states support the Declaration. The exceptions are New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States and the Russian Federation.
The Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust (a Maori organisation active at the UN on the Declaration) has drafted the attached letter to send to overseas' embassies in New Zealand and Pacific States to lobby them to prevent New Zealand and other states from amending the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples before it is voted on in the UN General Assembly at the end of this year. We fear that New Zealand, together with Canada, the United States, Australia and the Russian Federation will be seeking to weaken the text of the Declaration over the next 3 or 4 months.
We seek your support for this initiative and, if you are willing, authorisation to add your or your organisation's name to this letter. If so, could you please email your name and/or organisation to Claire Charters and she will ensure your name is added. If your organisation supports this letter, could you please provide a little information about the kaupapa of your organisation and membership.
Other indigenous peoples active in the UN are coordinating together for a multi-pronged strategy to prevent any further state amendments to the Declaration. This letter forms part of, and has been written in consultation with, these broader initiatives.
Should you require further information about the Declaration or recent negotiations on it, please see this website which includes a number of reports and general information about the Declaration. If you have specific questions about the Declaration and the process it has been through, please feel free to email the Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust.
Finally, members of Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust will be providing some information about the Declaration locally in Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungunu and Te Rarawa in October this year. Please contact Claire Charters should you require more information about those hui.
We look forward to hearing from you,