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Cullen on UN committee report

Cullen on UN committee report

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen today urged caution in interpreting the report on the Foreshore and Seabed Act by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“The committee’s decision is relatively short, running to only nine paragraphs and does not provide much commentary on their reasons for reaching the conclusions they did.

“I would point out, however, that the committee did not find that the Act was a breach of the Convention. Its finding was more circumspect,” Dr Cullen said.

The relevant paragraph from the statement reads: Bearing in mind the complexity of the issues involved, the legislation appears to the committee, on balance, to contain discriminatory aspects against the Maori, in particular in its extinguishment of the possibility of establishing Maori customary Maori title over the foreshore and seabed and its failure to provide a guaranteed right of redress, notwithstanding the State party’s obligations under articles 5 and 6 of the Convention [the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.]

Dr Cullen said the committee had indicated satisfaction with the government’s cooperation with the proceedings and intention to provide an update on the implementation of the Act by the end of this year.

“We are happy to comply with this request and hope to be in a position by then to include positive information from the negotiations currently underway with Ngati Porou and Te Whanua-a-Apanui in relation to their customary rights to the foreshore and seabed within their traditional rohe.”

Dr Cullen also welcomed the committee’s appeal that everyone refrain from exploiting racial tensions around the issue for their own political advantage and noted that this applied to all actors not just the government.

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