Human Rights Council Adopts Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Human Rights Council Adopts Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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John Ahni Schertow
June 29, 2006
 

29 June 2006 UN Press release. Extends Mandate of Working Group on Drafting Optional Protocol to International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted by consensus the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and recommended that the General Assembly adopt the treaty.

The Council also adopted by a roll-call vote of 30 in favour to 2 against and 12 abstentions a resolution on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Council adopted the declaration as proposed by the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft declaration and recommended that the General Assembly adopt the non-binding declaration.

Also adopted by consensus was a resolution on the Open-ended Working Group to draft an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Council welcomed the report of the Working Group with a view to considering options regarding the elaboration of an Optional Protocol and decided to extend the mandate of the Working Group for a period of two years in order to elaborate the Optional Protocol.

Action on Resolution on Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

In a resolution (A/HRC/1/L.3), entitled Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft declaration in accordance with paragraph 5 of the General Assembly resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, adopted after a roll-call vote by thirty in favour, two against, and twelve abstentions, the Human Rights Council adopts the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as proposed by the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft declaration in accordance with paragraph 5 of the General Assembly resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994 in annex I to the report of the Working Group on its eleventh session (E/CN.4/2006/79); recommends to the General Assembly that it adopt the following draft resolution:

The General Assembly, expresses its appreciation to the Council for the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and adopts the Declaration as contained in the annex to Council resolution 2006.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law. Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.

Indigenous peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their rights to participate fully, if they so choos! e, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (30):
Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland,
France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius,
Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi
Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switerzland, United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Zambia.

Against (2):
Canada, Russian Federation.

Abstentions (12):
Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Ghana, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria,
Philippines, Senegal, Tunisia, Ukraine.

Absent (3):
Djibouti, Gabon, Mali.

PAUL MEYER (Canada), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, acknowledged the important role that Canada, as well as other indigenous organizations, had played in the process of the drafting of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The proposal did not receive the necessary support, even though Canada, some other countries and a few indigenous representatives noted in their statements difficulties with a process where all parties had not discussed proposed language on several key issues. Canada had worked for a declaration that would promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every indigenous person without discrimination and recognized the collective rights of indigenous peoples around the world. Canada had a long and proud tradition of not only supporting but also actively
advocating Aboriginal and treaty rights at home and was fully committed to working internationally on indigenous issues. Regrettably, however, Canada would vote against the resolution.

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