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UN indigenous rights expert calls for greater awareness of human rights values

The UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya [official profile] on Tuesday voiced concern [statement] over the fate of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [text], stating that its implementation would be "difficult, if not impossible" without greater awareness of human rights values. The declaration was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007 and "marked a historic moment of recognition of the existence of indigenous peoples." However, Anaya has found [report] that many indigenous peoples continue to suffer widespread and systematic deprivation of their human rights, despite expressions of commitment to the Declaration. "Greater efforts must be put in place to achieve such broad awareness among governmental and other influential actors, the international system, and the general public," Anaya stated. "I would like to urge States and others to recall why the Declaration exists in the first place—that is to improve the human rights conditions of the world's indigenous peoples—and to renew a commitment to that end."

Earlier this month Anaya urged [JURIST report] the Canadian government to take steps to fully respond to the urgent needs of indigenous peoples. In August UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged [JURIST report] states to honor treaties with indigenous peoples, regardless of how long ago they were signed, as such treaties serve to protect human rights. In July the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples encouraged [JURIST report] the Panamanian government to strengthen the rights of its indigenous people. In December 2010 US President Barack Obama announced [JURIST report] that the US would support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The declaration, adopted in 2007, is a non-binding treaty outlining the global human rights of approximately 370 million indigenous people and banning discrimination against them. The US was one of four member states originally opposed to adopting the treaty.

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