IFSW is delighted that President Barack Obama announced on Thursday, 16th December 2010 that the United States will reverse course and support a United Nations declaration defending the rights of indigenous peoples. President Obama told Native American leaders that the declaration affirms the importance and rich cultures of native peoples throughout the world.
The U.S. voted against the declaration when the General Assembly adopted it in 2007, arguing it was incompatible with existing laws. Three other countries, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, also opposed the declaration, but have since announced their support.
The IFSW developed its own policy on Indigenous Peoples in May 2005 and wholeheartedly supports the principles set forth in the UN document. IFSW’s full policy can be found at http://www.ifsw.org/p38000138.html
The UN declaration is intended to protect the rights of more than 370 million native peoples worldwide, affirming their equality and ability to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions. It sets standards to fight discrimination and marginalization and eliminate human rights violations.
Administration officials said last April that they were reviewing the U.S. position on the declaration. The State Department called the decision to support the declaration a “meaningful change in the U.S. position.”
While not legally binding, the declaration “carries considerable moral and political force and complements the president’s ongoing efforts to address historical inequities faced by indigenous communities in the United States,” the department said in a statement.
International Policy on Indigenous Peoples