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NZ claims victory for blocking key document

7 December 2006

NZ claims victory for blocking key document on indigenous rights

A press release by Foreign Minister Winston Peters crowing at New Zealand's success in blocking the most important international instrument for the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples has drawn condemnation from Green Party Maori Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei.

The United Nations last week rejected the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, despite the fact that the UN Human Rights Council had adopted it earlier this year. New Zealand was one of the strongest opponents of the declaration's adoption.

"I find it amazing that not only is New Zealand, a country which claims to have a strong record on indigenous rights, prepared to argue vehemently against a document setting out minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being, but our Foreign Minister is prepared to issue a press release at home celebrating how New Zealand's arguments 'won' at the UN," Mrs Turei says.

"The Indigenous Peoples Caucus at the UN is horrified by this decision, and rightly so. The draft declaration represents more than 20 years of work at the UN. Winston Peters claims that rejecting the declaration provides a chance to 'fix' the text, but all that has really been achieved is a further delay in gaining the human rights recognition that indigenous peoples all over the world clearly deserve.

"It is embarrassing that some of the strongest opponents of the draft declaration were New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United States, all countries with significant indigenous populations. Their opposition sends a terrible message to their indigenous people at home about how seriously their rights are taken by their governments," Mrs Turei says.


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