Monday, 9 March 2009
Commonwealth Day = Dispossession Day
Only four members of the UN voted against the Declaration on Indigenous Rights in 2007: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. Three are members of the Commonwealth.
Of the 53 countries which now make up the Commonwealth, only two of the smallest (Dominica and Fiji) have ratified the 1989 international law recognising indigenous and tribal peoples' rights.
The Commonwealth - and Britain's wealth - was partly built on the dispossession of indigenous peoples but the UK refuses to sign, in part explaining that this is because there are no indigenous peoples in the UK. That has not stopped countries such as the Netherlands from signing. The UK also does not recognise 'collective human rights' despite recognising that countries such as Canada and Australia are right to recognise them!
One hundred and fifty-eight members of the UK parliament have rejected the government's argument and asked it to sign the law.
The point of the declaration, says the UN, is that it does "represent the dynamic development of international legal norms and it reflects the commitment of the UN's member states to move in certain directions ... an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet's 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalisation."
This is obviously not what the UK, representing commercial interests and not human rights, wants.