Cablegate: New Zealand to Table Amendments to Draft
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000769
STATE FOR EAP/ANP AND IO/UNP
E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: AORC PHUM PREL NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND TO TABLE AMENDMENTS TO DRAFT
DECLARATION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
1. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
on August 31 unveiled changes to the draft declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that it intends to propose
to the UN Working Group in Geneva. The Ministry, which will
table the amended text the week of September 13, said it
aimed to keep the changes to a minimum, in an effort to
allow for successful implementation by all member states.
Its key concerns included ensuring that the text was
consistent with human rights laws, that it addressed
potential conflicts between individual and collective human
rights, and that third-party rights were fully protected.
2. The Ministry says that the aforementioned views are
widely held by other member nations. Ministry officials
anticipate strong support for their proposed changes and say
that they should not come as a surprise to the U.S.
3. The proposed text amendments were developed in
consultation with the Norwegian Government. They will be
tabled at the UN Working Group as a joint initiative by New
Zealand, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and
4. In Article 3, which addresses issues of self-
determination and lands and resources, the Ministry has
proposed several amendments to ensure the safeguarding of
territorial integrity and unity of the state. Included is
the proposed addition, to Article 3, of two paragraphs from
the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Program of Action.
5. Articles 25 and 26 address indigenous issues in
relation to land and resources. The Ministry has proposed
minor amendments, and deletion, to various text. Despite
this, the Ministry maintains that deletion of some text does
not lessen the importance of these articles but conversely
underlines the fact that, in regards to human rights and
land and resources, "one size does not fit all."
6. Other proposed amendments involve minor language
changes and, of note, involve articles to do with policy-
7. The Ministry's proposed changes to the draft
declaration will be formally tabled at the next UN Working
Group session to be held in Geneva the week beginning
8. It is hoped that at this meeting the Director of
the UN Working Group will accept the amendments in order for
the declaration to be officially adopted and changed into UN
language for implementation. It is also hoped that those
countries that have been blocking progress on the proposed
amendments will show their support.
9. The final Working Group meeting for the year will
be held in late November or early December.
10. The amendments were discussed in a briefing to invited
representatives of the Australian, Canadian and U.S.
missions in Wellington.
11. The issue of human rights of indigenous peoples has
particular relevance to New Zealand because of the
indigenous Maori, who compose about 15 percent of the New
Zealand population. The proposed amendments to the draft
declaration that New Zealand will table mark the culmination
of 10 years of consultation, debate and negotiation. The New
Zealand Government hopes that unanimous support of its
amendments will bring this text to closure and achieve the
changes that are necessary to ensure that individual
countries live up to their laws regarding indigenous peoples
and for states to formally adopt the declaration.
12. The proposed amended text with explanatory notes will
be faxed to EAP/ANP and IO/UNP.