U.S. Should Join World In Supporting Indigenous Rights

By Rainforest Action Network

Long Plain First Nation Pow-wow by flickr user Shawna NellesCanada has now formally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), leaving the United States as the only country to remain opposed to the most comprehensive international statement on Indigenous rights to date.

After its adoption in 2007 by the UN General Assembly, UNDRIP was heralded around the world by Indigenous Peoples, states, human rights and environmental organizations. Its provisions provide much needed guidance to governments, state institutions and society as a whole on how human rights laws and obligations can be best understood and applied to the distinct circumstances and the urgent needs of 370 million Indigenous People around the world.

First Nations across Canada pushed for the formal endorsement of UNDRIP as an important step towards the country improving its record on Indigenous rights.

RAN supported these efforts through a $1,250 grant to Defenders of the Land, a network of Indigenous communities and activists involved in land rights struggles across Canada.

Toronto demonstration on eve of G20 meetings
Toronto demonstration on eve of G20 meetings

The grant supported the organizing of a national day of action to shine a spotlight on the country’s continued policy to remove First Nations’ control over their land and resource base, with the demand that Canada endorse UNDRIP and recognize Indigenous communities’ right to self-determination. Thousands participated, resulting in coverage from all of the major media outlets in Canada and some stories in the international press as well.

Canada’s endorsement of UNDRIP is an important first step towards addressing the demands put forth by First Nations. It also leaves the US in the shameful position of being the only country to remain in opposition to universally recognized Indigenous rights.

However, the US is currently undergoing a review and consultation process to determine whether or not to reverse its position from 2007 (as the other 3 countries that initially voted against the Declaration already have done).

Its well past time for the US to catch up with the rest of the world on this critical human rights issue. Ask President Obama to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples today!