United Nations General Assembly: excerpts from the report on the 107th & 108th Meetings in 2007
Vote on Indigenous Rights Declaration
By a vote of 143 in favour to 4 against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States), with 11 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out the individual and collective rights of the world’s 370 million native peoples, calls for the maintenance and strengthening of their cultural identities, and emphasizes their right to pursue development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. [...]
AJAI MALHOTRA (India) said his country had consistently favoured the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights. The fact that the working group had been unable to reach consensus was only reflective of the extreme complexity of the issues involved. While the Declaration did not define what constituted indigenous peoples, the issue of indigenous rights pertained to peoples in independent countries who were regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region which the country belonged, at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present State boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retained some or all of their socio-economic, cultural and political institutions.
Regarding references to the right to self-determination, it was his understanding that the right to self-determination applied only to peoples under foreign domination and that the concept did not apply to sovereign independent States or to a section of people or a nation, which was the essence of national integrity. The Declaration clarified that the right to self-determination would be exercised by indigenous peoples in terms of their right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as means and ways for financing their autonomous functions. In addition, article 46 stated clearly that nothing in the Declaration might be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter. It was on that basis that India had voted in favour of the adoption of the Declaration. [...]
Source: UN Department of Public Information (New York, 13 September 2007)
Date Visited: 28 March 2011