Human Rights Day
On December 10th, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a document proclaiming the rights and freedoms of all human beings. However, it would not be until nearly 60 years later in 2007 that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the General Assembly of 143 countries and states.
UNDRIP is a comprehensive statement addressing the rights and freedoms of Indigenous Peoples. Briefly, UNDRIP lays out 46 articles that establish:
“… a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world, and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of Indigenous peoples.”
Interestingly, the declaration was drafted and debated for over 20 years prior to being finally adopted in 2007. However, four countries (Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand) initially voted against the declaration. These four countries have since reversed their position and agreed to support UNDRIP, with Canada (2016), Australia (2009), and New Zealand (2010) going so far as to endorse the declaration fully.
Within UNDRIP, the rights and freedoms of Indigenous peoples, both as individuals and as a collective, are identified and recognized as outlined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international human rights law. Issues outlined include culture (17 out of 46 articles deal with the protection of culture), self-determination, reconciliation, equality, discrimination, dignity, participation, and more.
UNDRIP is not legally binding for those countries and states who endorse it. However, it represents the commitment of these countries and states to adhere to the UNDRIP principles. It is also noted that the declaration does not create new rights; it simply details the human rights already laid out in other charters, declarations, and laws and provides support for those countries and states dealing with discrimination and marginalization.
Click here to view the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) document.