U.N. backs rights of native peoples; U.S. objects
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/201182
UNITED NATIONS — The General Assembly adopted a declaration Thursday affirming the rights of native peoples worldwide over objections from the United States and Canada, ending two decades of deliberations.
The declaration, which is not legally binding, affirms the equality of the world's 370 million indigenous peoples and their right to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions.
It also establishes standards to combat discrimination and marginalization, and eliminate human-rights violations against them.
The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were the only countries that voted against the declaration, although 11 nations abstained. The opponents said they wanted to work toward a solution, but that key parts of the declaration would give indigenous peoples too many rights and clash with existing national laws.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairwoman of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said the declaration was "a major victory" for the United Nations in establishing human- rights standards.
But she said the real test will be whether countries implement it.