Native Village Youth and Education News
March 1, 2009 Issue 195 Volume 1
International Pressure Mounts on Canada to Do More about Indigenous Rights
Canada's Record on
Indigenous Rights Questioned at UN Human Rights Council
Ottawa, Canada: Canada's human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations last month as part of the new Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. However, Canada did not consult with Indigenous organizations and groups before submitting its report to the Human Rights Council. This consultation is recommended by the UPR process. Now dozens of countries across the world are saying the Canadian Government must do more to uphold the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. Some of the strongest recommendations came from countries who usually ally themselves with Canada in promoting human rights. Among the world's comments:
The United Kingdom said Canada should give its "highest priority" to addressing issues between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. This includes "resolution of land claims and reconciliation of governance and self-government."
Norway and Denmark said Canada should reconsider its opposition to the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. "We believe the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is unique as a universal framework for improving implementation of existing rights of Indigenous peoples in all countries of the world," the Norwegian representative said,
Norway also called for "comprehensive reporting and statistical analysis of the scale and character of violence against Indigenous women so that a national strategy can be initiated in consultation with Indigenous representatives to respond to the severity of this issue."
Switzerland expressed concern over the conditions, concessions, and long process demanded by the government in settling Indigenous land disputes. They urged Canada to "redouble its efforts" to resolve land disputes and to improve the mechanisms for doing so.
The Philippines asked, "Is there specific legislation which covers mining activities in lands claimed by Indigenous communities? What mechanisms are in place to resolve possible disputes between private corporations, local and federal government and Indigenous communities in this regard?"
Zambia recommends that Canada "take steps to review its position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, consistent with the principal of international cooperation and the protection of the international human rights system as a whole.
Indigenous organizations and human rights groups told Canada to take the UPR recommendations seriously and to work more effectively with Indigenous peoples and civil society.
Video recordings of the session and related documents can be found online at: http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=090203
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