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UN experts welcome Canadian House of Commons endorsement of the Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples


18 April 2008


The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing as a component of the rights to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, Miloon Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diène, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued the following statement today:

“We welcome with special satisfaction the motion adopted by the Canadian House of Commons on 8 April 2008, regarding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and relating to the call for Parliament and Government to «fully implement the standards contained therein». The Legislature’s commitment to put the provisions of the UN Declaration into practice is a powerful sign for indigenous peoples in Canada and in other countries.”

“The UN Declaration calls for the establishment of a new relationship between indigenous peoples and States based on the principles of equality, self-determination, and respect for the human rights of all. We are convinced that the standards and principles set forth in the Declaration will constitute a useful road-map for Canada’s future laws and policies with regard to Aboriginal peoples, and will help improve their human rights situation.”

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 September 2007 with support from an overwhelming majority of Member States. Only four states voted against its adoption, including Canada. The Canadian House of Commons positive step joins recent initiatives taken by States to give effect to the Declaration. Bolivia and Ecuador recently gave legal force to the Declaration by enacting legislation, and similar initiatives are being discussed in other countries.

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the rights to an adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non discrimination in this context, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have made official visits to Canada in recent years. The Government of Canada is encouraged to benefit from the analysis and recommendations of these mandate holders in taking forward practical measures to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples. The reports of special procedures can be found at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/special/