Extinguishing Sovereignty
Canada in focus ⬿

Extinguishing Sovereignty

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June 26, 2012

There’s a term in law to describe coercion to extract something of value from someone under the threat of the commission of serious harm. When the threatened party has already experienced egregious harm by the threatening party, the reality of the threat is taken into account when determining the punishment of the perpetrator. Depending on the degree of threatened harm, extortion can comprise a form of terror, in that it is conducive to extreme anxiety, insecurity and unrelenting fear of reprisal. When the perpetrator of extortion is a member state of the United Nations, and the victim is an ethnic or racial minority within that state, UN bodies like the Committee for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination and the Human Rights Council have jurisdiction.

Since 2007, when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, member states like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States have implemented measures to counter this human rights initiative–both overtly and covertly. Initially opposing the international law head-on, these four rogue states later decided to pay it lip service, while simultaneously denying its application in state policy. As with other human rights initiatives since the founding of the UN, they found it more advantageous to manage the public relations of their non-compliance, than to actually comply. Five years down the road under UNDRIP, that hasn’t changed.

In the BC treaty process, designed by the federal government of Canada in collusion with the province of British Columbia, extortion has taken on the form of extinguishing First Nations sovereignty using poverty and debt as a tool to coerce these Indigenous peoples into relinquishing their inherent territories and rights under international law. As Kerry Coast reports in The Dominion, the government — with assistance from the First Nations Summit advisory body — is proceeding with the project of their dissolution and termination. A genteel way of saying ethnic cleansing.

With the appointment of the First Nations Summit chair — the lawyer Grand Chief Edward John — as chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN itself has taken sides in the struggle between Indigenous nations and UN member states. Like its member Canada, the UN has chosen to engage in PR crisis management, rather than uphold international law.

For Indigenous peoples in Canada and elsewhere, this signals a willingness of the UN to abet their long-term impoverishment by its member states, using those who sell out as a model comprising surrender as consent.  The problem with such non sequiturs in human rights is that the result is cultural genocide.


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