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Government defies UN majority on indigenous rights

Government defies UN majority position on indigenous rights

The Green Party today expressed its extreme disappointment at the Government's negative response to the UN draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which was recently passed by a two thirds majority of member countries on the UN Human Rights Council.

"Indigenous peoples from around the world have been negotiating this document for over a decade, in a process that began in 1985. They have repeatedly made concessions to the views of states such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States, yet those governments have continued to push their own integrationist agenda," Green Party Maori Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"The draft declaration affirms the right of self-determination of indigenous peoples, including the right to traditional territory and resources, and the right of indigenous peoples to oversee their own education in their own languages.

"New Zealand has chosen to support countries such as the United States and Australia who have well known histories of genocide against American Indian and Aboriginal peoples," Mrs Turei says.

"Domestically, Winston Peters has recently been critical of politicians who denied the existence of an indigenous people in New Zealand. Yet in the global stage, he is choosing to oppose the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous people, including the rights of mana whenua in New Zealand.

"Mr Peters is also wrong to claim that Maori were well consulted about the stance New Zealand should take on this issue. Since 2001, Maori have been kept out of the decision-making process. In that respect it is deeply ironic that New Zealand should have lectured the UN Human Rights Council to concentrate its efforts on ' real dialogue.'"

"We are still in the dark as to what Mr Peters and the Government find so objectionable and so "deeply flawed' about the contents of the UN draft declaration.

"As things stand, the Government stands complicit in denying the world's indigenous peoples one of the few protections they could claim."


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