14 May 2008


Last September the General Assembly of the United Nations passed the historic Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration was supported by 144 countries but Australia was one of only 4 countries, together with the US, Canada and NZ, to oppose the Declaration.

The current Australian Government has said it would consult with stakeholders about reversing Australia's opposition to the Declaration. (The Canadian Parliament also recently stated that it will end its opposition).

A draft letter emanating from the Human Rights Law Resource Centre in Melbourne has been circulated addressed to key members of the Australian Government urging endorsement of the Declaration. Interested individuals are encouraged to send their own copy of the letter to the Prime Minister and other relevant ministers.

The following points are made in the letter;-
- endorsement of the Declaration sends a strong signal that the government is genuinely committed to upholding the rights of indigenous peoples and improving their lives.
- the objections put forward by the previous government to supporting the Declaration lacked a sound basis, misinterpreted international law and included unfounded concerns about the potential for the over-riding of domestic law.
- the Declaration is important because it elaborates upon standards that nation states and their public institutions should aspire to, respect and achieve in their relationships with indigenous communities and organizations.

I am happy to forward a the text of the letter to anyone who would like to receive it.

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