Indigenous Nations' Rights in the Balance: An Analysis of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Book, 2013, 144 pp
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Does the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples actually protect indigenous rights?

Comparing three different versions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP), Indigenous Nations' Rights in the Balance analyses the implications of the changes made to DRIP for Indigenous Peoples and Nations. This is a foundational text for Indigenous law and rights and the global struggle of Indigenous Peoples in the face of modern states.

Between 1994 and 2007, three different versions of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were passed by various bodies of the United Nations, culminating in the final version passed by the UN General Assembly. Significant differences exist between these versions--differences that deeply affect the position of all Indigenous Peoples in the world community.

In Indigenous Nations' Rights in the Balance, Charmaine White Face gives her well-researched comparative analysis of these versions. She puts side-by-side, for our consideration, passages that change the intent of the Declaration by privileging the power and jurisdiction of nation-states over the rights of Indigenous Peoples. As Spokesperson representing the Sioux Nation Treaty Council in UN proceedings, she also gives her insights about each set of changes and their ultimate effect.

[Charmaine White Face's] work in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as her defense of the Black Hills of the North Plains region, challenges the United Nations Human Rights declaration of 2007 as deeply flawed. In examining the role of the UN, she charges that it has again through its recent declarations provided legitimacy and prestige not only to historical eighteenth-century genocide, but to the continuing plunder of rights and resources of native peoples. [...] What happens when international law says powerful nations can use the idea of law as a weapon to gain consensus for theft? The so-called rule of law, as discoverers have shown us from the beginning, entrenches legal doctrines that justify genocide. The UN complicity [...] has enormous consequences. A lucid and implacable analysis of the crucial relationship between Indians and their colonizers. --Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Hunkpati Dakota, Author of A Separate Country and Anti-Indianism

"Charmaine White Face provides a series of powerful arguments and direct documentation that indigenous rights were passed over in favor of nation-state powers and jurisdiction over indigenous nations within nation states. Many indigenous organizations that participated in the long negotiations of the Declaration did not give their consent to the final UN versions of the Declaration. The final form of the declaration ignored indigenous self-government, rights to territory, plural citizenship, rights to appeal to international bodies for dispute resolution, and effective rights of informed consent. Instead of protection and articulation of indigenous rights, indigenous peoples are saddled with over 30 unenforceable mandates for nation states to include indigenous peoples as citizens within cultural, legal, and political orders of nation states. Indigenous peoples are willing to work with nation states, but not at the price of losing their indigenous rights to land, self-government, and cultural autonomy. This book provides a detailed analysis and evaluation that shows how nation states and the UN ignored the rights of indigenous peoples when finalizing the Declaration." --Duane Champagne, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Author of Captured Justice and Professor of Native Studies, UCLA

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