November 28, 2006.- Several African nations, led by Namibia, were successful today in their bid to delay the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at a meeting of the Third Committee of the General Assembly.
Namibia sponsored a resolution asking for a delay in its adoption possibly until next September. The resolution was adopted by a majority vote.
Concerns were expressed in the Third Committee about the right of self-determination for indigenous peoples. Concerns also were expressed about the lack of a definition of who is indigenous, and that this could lead to uncertainty and instability within African nations. These concerns have been discussed for years, but most of the African countries did not take part in those discussions.
We are very disappointed that the Declaration will not be immediately adopted. But we understand that there are concerns because this is a very serious declaration of rights, said Robert Tim Coulter, executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center in Helena, Mont. and one of the original authors of the declaration.
The Indian Law Resource Center is prepared to continue fighting for adoption of the Declaration, and we believe that the concerns expressed by Namibia and other countries can be resolved so that the Declaration can be adopted within the coming year without weakening indigenous peoples rights, he said.
It is especially important that consultations about the Declaration in the coming months include indigenous representatives, especially representatives of indigenous governments. This is a crucial time for representatives of indigenous governments to join the process to win adoption of the Declaration, Coulter said.
We must continue the work of persuading states to respect our rights and to adopt the strongest possible declaration, he added.
For more information, call 406/449-2006 or email [email protected]
Fuente: Indian Law Resource Center / Centro de Recursos Juridicos para los Pueblos Indigenas