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UN Declaration

UN Declaration

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday September 13, by a majority of 144 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). Click here to view the voting record.

Since its adoption, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States have all reversed their positions and now endorse the Declaration. Colombia and Samoa have also reversed their positions and indicated their support for the Declaration.

During the Durban Review Conference in April 2009, 182 States from all regions of the world reached consensus on an outcome document in which they “ Welcome[d] the adoption of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples which has a positive impact on the protection of victims and, in this context, urge[d] States to take all necessary measures to implement the rights of indigenous peoples in accordance with international human rights instruments without discrimination…” (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Outcome document of the Durban Review Conference , 24 April 2009, para. 73).

“The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will set the stage for an opportunity for a new beginning, for an improved relationship between indigenous peoples and States in North America and throughout the world”, said Grand Chief Edward John, a member of the First Nations Summit executive and First Nations Leadership Council who was in New York for the historic vote.

“We stand together and celebrate that the fundamental human rights which we have all worked so hard to uphold in this Declaration are still intact in the final text now adopted by the UN General Assembly. These include the inherent rights related to our traditional lands, territories and natural resources, our self-determination, our unqualified recognition as Peoples, our own cultures, languages and identities, our subsistence, our own concepts of developments, Treaties, and free, prior and informed consent”, adds Grand Chief John. “We hope the Declaration will now force Canada to work with Aboriginal people of this country to bring about change to their flawed colonial policies”.

Link to UNPFII

On September 13, 2012, the Assembly of First Nations hosted a webinar for the 5th anniversary of the UNDRIP.  CLICK TO VIEW



"First We Take Manhattan..." A Report by Grand Chief Edward John, on the September 13, 2007 Adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peopleby the United Nations Generaly Assembly.  Sept. 27, 2007.  Chief Joe Matias Recreation Centre, North Vancouver, BC  READ MORE...

State of the World's Indigenous Peoples (Link to Official Website)

Indigenous peoples contribute extensible to humanity's cultural diversity, enriching it with more than two thirds of its languages and an extraordinary amount of its traditional knowledge.

There are over 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries, living in all regions of the world. The situation of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world is critical today. Poverty rates are significantly higher among indigenous peoples compared to other groups. While they constitute 5 per cent of the world's population, they are 15 per cent of the world's poor. Most indicators of well-being show that indigenous peoples suffer disproportionately compared to non-indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples face systemic discrimination and exclusion from political and economic power; they continue to be over-represented among the poorest, the illiterate, the destitute; they are displaced by wars and environmental disasters; indigenous peoples are dispossessed of their ancestral lands and deprived of their resources for survival, both physical and cultural; they are even robbed of their very right to life.

In more modern versions of market exploitation, indigenous peoples see their traditional knowledge and cultural expressions marketed and patented without their consent or participation.

Of the some 7,000 languages today, it is estimated that more than 4,000 are spoken by indigenous peoples. Language specialists predict that up to 90 per cent of the world’s languages are likely to become extinct or threatened with extinction by the end of the century.

Although the state of the world's indigenous peoples is alarming, there is some cause for optimism. The international community increasingly recognizes indigenous peoples' human rights, most prominently evidenced by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples themselves continue to organize for the promotion of their rights. They are the stewards of some of the world's most biologically diverse areas and their traditional knowledge about the biodiversity of these areas is invaluable. As the effects of climate change are becoming clearer, it is increasingly evident that indigenous peoples must play a central role in developing adaptation and mitigation efforts to this global challenge.

The State of the World's Indigenous Peoples is the result of a collaborative effort, organized by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The Chapters were written by independent experts.