INDEPENDENT NEWS

PMA: Indigenous Rights Petition to Parliament

Published: Thu 11 Dec 2008 07:55 AM
Human Rights Day: Indigenous Rights Petition to Parliament
The first signatures on the national petition calling on the government to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be presented to parliament at 1pm on Human Rights Day - Wednesday, 10 December.
Human Rights Day this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global statement expressing the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings. The theme of the year-long UN celebrations to mark the anniversary is 'Dignity and justice for all of us'.
"Unfortunately the New Zealand government appears to have little commitment to dignity and justice for all, as it remains one of only three governments around the world opposed to the most recent international human rights Declaration - the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples", Edwina Hughes, Peace Movement Aotearoa Coordinator, said today.
"This places NZ in a tiny minority of states that are ignoring their obligations under international law, and it makes a mockery of the government's claims to be a principled defender of human rights and a credible candidate for the UN Human Rights Council."
"We are calling on the new government to distance itself from the previous government's unprincipled position on the UN Declaration", Tracey Whare de Castro, Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust Trustee, added. "The Declaration sets minimum standards for the recognition and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples around the world. What kind of message is the government sending if they continue to oppose it? That indigenous peoples cannot have the same human rights as others? Clearly that viewpoint is completely unacceptable."
Green Party MP Keith Locke, and Maori Party MPs Rahui Katene, Hone Harawira, and Te Ururoa Flavell will take part in the handover of the petition.
A copy of the recently launched Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust DVD 'Maori and the United Nations' will be presented to each of the MPs.
Contact: tel 04 382 8129, email pma@xtra.co.nz
Text of the petition addressed to the House of Representatives:
Around the world, indigenous peoples continue to be subjected to grave and persistent violations of their fundamental human rights, including genocide. On 13 September 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a move described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a triumph for justice and human dignity.
When adopting the Declaration, the General Assembly stated its conviction "that the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in this Declaration will enhance harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and indigenous peoples, based on principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith." One hundred and forty three UN member states voted in favour of the Declaration - the NZ government was one of only four that voted against it. NZ is now one of only three governments that continue to oppose it.
The Declaration provides minimum standards of protection for the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples. It does not create any special or new rights; rather it applies already existing human rights to the particular circumstances of indigenous peoples. Its adoption by the General Assembly is an indication of the international community's commitment to the promotion and protection of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples.
We, the undersigned, are deeply disappointed by the government's ongoing opposition to the Declaration. It is unreasonable and unjust. It places NZ in a tiny minority of states that are ignoring their obligations under international law, and it makes a mockery of the government's claims to be a principled defender of human rights and a credible candidate for the UN Human Rights Council.
We therefore call on the government to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to announce this in the General Assembly at the earliest possible opportunity.
Background information on the UN Declaration:
"The Declaration is a visionary step towards addressing the human rights of indigenous peoples. It sets out a framework on which states can build or re-build their relationships with indigenous peoples. The result of more than two decades of negotiations, it provides a momentous opportunity for states and indigenous peoples to strengthen their relationships, promote reconciliation, and ensure that the past is not repeated. I encourage Member States and indigenous peoples to come together in a spirit of mutual respect, and make use of the Declaration as the living document it is so that it has a real and positive effect throughout the world." Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
More information is available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/decrips.htm
Ends

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