NZ Position Underming Indigenous Peoples At UN
Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
7 December 2005
United Nations Geneva, Switzerland
Dear brothers, sisters and friends:
The American Indian Law Alliance delegation from the United Nations in Geneva sends you our greetings. We are here to move forward the eventual passage of the Declaration on the Rights of the World's Indigenous Peoples by the Commission on Human Rights and eventual adoption by the General Assembly.
We would optimistically suggest that progress is being made, especially on the critical issue of self-determination. Nonetheless, a few nations still seem committed to blocking the unqualified acceptance of this human right with respect to Indigenous peoples. Of course, two of these countries are the United States and Australia.
Their positions and opposition are not unexpected. However, New Zealand has taken an increasingly hostile position towards Indigenous peoples and our right to self-determination. Without going into too much detail, yesterday (December 6, 2005), the representative of New Zealand stated from the floor of the United Nations that without inclusion of the concept of the territorial integrity of states (a serious impediment to the exercise of self-determination, taken out of the context in which it is generally accepted in international law) there would not be a principle of self-determination in the Declaration.
Additionally, they are proposing that Article 31 (on self-government over internal affairs) be amended and moved to a position in the Declaration following Article 3 on self-determination. This too can be interpreted to bring the concept of internal autonomy into a position of significance equal to and/or potentially limiting Indigenous peoples right to self-determination.
These positions make the rights of Indigenous peoples less than the right of all other peoples. Without a change in New Zealand's position, the hopes for progress are seriously stifled.
There are no Maori people here at the United Nations. This means that the government of New Zealand is acting with impunity. They operate without accountability to the Indigenous peoples whose lands they occupy and whose treaties are at stake. We would therefore urge our brothers and sisters, in particular our Maori brothers and sisters, to seek out the government of New Zealand and ensure that this government is responsible and accountable for the positions they are taking and the risk they are presenting to the rights of Indigenous peoples everywhere.
American Indian Law Alliance
611 Broadway, Suite 632
New York, NY 10012