can’t see the forest

Anglosphere to World: Indi-ge-who??

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The United Nations General Assembly adopted on 13 September a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This non-binding document (are they ever binding?) is described by the UN as “an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet’s 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalization.”

Various UN agencies have been chewing on this proposal since its inception over twenty years ago. Having finally reached the vote in the General Assembly, the declaration found itself approved by an overwhelming majority of 143 nations, with 11 abstaining and 4 voting against. The naysayers, in this instance, were (perhaps not that surprisingly) the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Wikipedia has a nice summary of the complaints of these nations, which, in the humble opinion of yours truly, come off as just a wee bit on the paranoid schizophrenic side.

While I daresay most would recognize that the opportunity window for optimal efficacy of such a declaration was x’d out at least two hundred years ago, still it is critical that international law provide for the rights of the world’s relatively few remaining indigenous communities. Nowhere is the need for redress more apparent, for instance, than in Latin America, where ancient tribes have recently been engaged in the fight to preserve their ancestral lands from oil conglomerates. Indeed, a preponderance of the countries involved in drafting the proposal are situated in Central and South America.


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