Foreign Policy Blogs

Moving towards consensus

Last week Canada pledged to join the ranks of almost every other country in the world to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In his Throne Speech to Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated the importance of indigenous culture in Canada and the need to improve the welfare of First Nations citizens. He then went on to state:

We are a country with an Aboriginal heritage. A growing number of states have given qualified recognition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our Government will take steps to endorse this aspirational document in a manner fully consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws.

It may not seem like much, but it is what many indigenous rights groups have been fighting for since the Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007. Back then, there were only four countries that voted against the non-binding Declaration – Australia, New Zealand, the US, and Canada. Now, Australia has adopted the Declaration and New Zealand has stated that it might endorse it soon. Canada’s pledge brings the world one step closer to near-universal recognition of the importance of indigenous rights, though of course the US still holding out.



Kimberly J. Curtis

Kimberly Curtis has a Master's degree in International Affairs and a Juris Doctor from American University in Washington, DC. She is a co-founder of The Women's Empowerment Institute of Cameroon and has worked for human rights organizations in Rwanda and the United States. You can follow her on Twitter at @curtiskj

Areas of Focus: Transitional justice; Women's rights; Africa