Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Australia Intends to Sign UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

Govt still intends to sign indigenous rights declaration
9th December 2008, 15:30 WST

The federal government has indicated it still intends to endorse a United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous people, after failing to fulfil the election promise in its first year.

Australia was one of just four countries to vote against the non-binding UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when the General Assembly adopted it in September 2007.

The Howard government refused to support the declaration, which sets out the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people, claiming it would elevate customary law above national law.

At the time, Labor said it would endorse the declaration, but has failed to do so in its first 12 months in office.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland on Tuesday said the government still supported the underlying principles of the declaration.

“We are consulting with indigenous organisations and other key stakeholders on an appropriate statement to reflect this,” Mr McClelland said in the inaugural Evatt Annual Lecture in Sydney.

“Without a doubt, the biggest and most pressing human rights challenge we face is the past failures in the treatment of indigenous Australians.”


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