Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the New Zealand Government’s decision to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Amnesty International has campaigned vigorously for New Zealand to officially support the Declaration, which now reaffirms New Zealand’s commitment to advancing the human rights of Indigenous peoples.
“The UN Declaration provides a much needed elaboration of human rights standards necessary to ensure the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples, who too often are forced to live in poverty, discrimination, marginalisation and oppression,” says Patrick Holmes, Chief Executive Officer of Amnesty International Aotearoa NZ.
“Critically, the Declaration improves the understanding and realisation of the existing inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples. It does not create new rights but generates renewed hope for a promising and secure future.”
The UNDRIP was the result of over twenty years of careful deliberation and negotiation between Indigenous peoples and states and is aimed at promoting the human rights that are most important to Indigenous peoples, especially their rights to traditional lands and resources.
Amnesty International believes that New Zealand’s support for the UNDRIP will contribute significantly towards healing the rifts between Māori and the Government that developed during the debate over the Foreshore and Seabed. The Declaration also provides an effective framework for resolving these types of disputes.
“Although the Declaration is not legally binding, supporting it places additional responsibilities on the Government. We look forward to seeing how its principles are implemented in future policies and programmes,” says Holmes.
Amnesty International emphasises, however, that New Zealand’s support of the UN Declaration must be unqualified to ensure its commitment to protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples is meaningful.
“There must be full engagement with Māori on the concrete measures the Government intends to take to give effect to the Declaration. No better example of the need for timely, meaningful and transparent consultation exists than the current consultation of the Government’s plans to achieve a ‘just and enduring solution’1 to the issue of the Foreshore and Seabed.”
“We intend to closely monitor the implementation of the Declaration, holding the Government accountable for respecting and upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples, and ensuring that the minimum standards are met,” says Holmes.