On Tuesday, the United States said it is reviewing its opposition to the 2007 U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The move was announced by the U.S. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice one day after New Zealand said it was reversing its stance and now supported the declaration.
The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all with sizable indigenous populations, were the only countries to vote against the declaration. Australia said last year it had decided to back the Declaration.
Many might find the oppostition of these four “liberal” and great “democracies” to the human rights of Indigenous Peoples to be quite puzzling.
The declaration says indigenous peoples “have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise used and acquired.”
U.S. officials said at the time — when the Bush administration was in office — that the text was unclear and that those who drafted it had failed to seek consensus. That last statement is especially ludicrous since the U.N. had been drafting and debating the Declaration since at least 1992 and the vote in the U.N. to adopt it was something like 140 nations for, 11 nations abstaining, and the 4 no votes by the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
On Tuesday, Ambassador Rice said she was “pleased to announce that the United States has decided to review our position” on the Declaration.
“We recognize that, for many around the world, this declaration provides a framework for addressing indigenous issues,” she said, noting that Native American leaders had encouraged President Barack Obama to re-examine the U.S. stance.”