Three years ago, when the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly, it received overwhelming support from the majority of member states. The Declaration marked the culmination of decades of advocacy by Indigenous Peoples for the recognition of their rights at the international level. It also addresses critical issues, such as the right to self-determination, the recognition of the role of Indigenous Peoples in sustainable development, and the rights of Indigenous women.
At the time, only four countries voted against it: the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the time since that vote, both Australia and New Zealand have reversed their position and endorsed the Declaration. Last Friday, Canada officially joined them in ending its opposition. This decision was praised by the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Carlos Mamani, who recognized it as an “important step in the right direction towards building and strengthening the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples within Canada."
This decision leaves the US as the only hold-out not to have endorsed the Declaration, although the Obama Administration has indicated its intent to review its position.