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Background of the DRIP:

Background of the DRIP:

The United Nations recognised the deep and centuries-long discrimination that indigenous peoples and communities numbering about 400 million residing in more than 70 countries suffer from, particularly during the European colonial era and after, which saw many genocidal aggressions against them. In 1923, Haudenosaunee Chief Deskaheh traveled to Geneva to speak to the League of Nations and defend the right of his people to live under their own laws, on the own land and under their own faith. Even though he was not allowed to speak and returned home in 1924, his vision nourished the generations that followed.

Based on the finding and recommendations of the monumental study carried out its Special Rapporteur, Mr Martinez Cobo, in the 80s, the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities took up a historic serious and open examination of the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous populations. It was the Sub-Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations that elaborated the first draft of the Declaration after many years of consultation with indigenous peoples and legal experts worldwide.

In 1985-1993 as part of their work, members of the Working Group, with the full participation of indigenous peoples, draft a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 1993 the Working Group adopts the Declaration and sends it to the Sub-Commission, which in turn approves it and sends it to the Commission on Human Rights.

On March 3, 1995 – The General Assembly declares the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1993-2004). Soon after the Commission on Human Rights establishes its own Working Group to elaborate the draft Declaration. In 1995-2004 the new Working Group, with the regular input of indigenous peoples and NGOs, meets annually, but fails to reach consensus by the end of the Decade. On April 20, 2005 the Commission on Human Rights adopts resolutions to continue the work of both the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) and the Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous.

In February 2006 Luis-Enrique Chavez of Peru, Chairman of the Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, writes compromise wording for the handful of articles still under debate and submits his text of the Declaration to the Human Rights Commission.

On June 29, 2006 at its inaugural session, the Human Rights Council (which replaced the Commission on Human Rights) adopts the Declaration, by a vote of 30 in favor, 2 against, and 12 abstentions. On November 28, 2006 the Declaration goes to the Third Committee of the General Assembly, but Namibia puts forward a proposal on behalf of the Group of African States to delay the vote. The committee adopts that proposal by a vote of 82 in favor, 67 against, and 25 abstentions. Action on the Declaration is deferred until the end of the General assembly’s session in September 2007. In December 2006 the UN General assembly adopts the third Committee’s proposal to postpone a vote on the Declaration.

Finally the Declaration has been adopted by UN General Assembly at its 61st Session on 12 September 2007 with 143 votes in favor, 4 against and 11 abstentions.  The adoption of the Declaration is no doubt a milestone in International Law and an important step towards pursuing truly inclusive human development.

Basic rights recognised by the Declaration:

The Declaration has 46 Articles, the longest declaration of the UN, recognizing and enunciating various categories of rights such as the right of self determination, right to land and territorial rights; the right to stop military activities in the land and territories of indigenous peoples; the right to control cultural expression including human and genetic resources, etc.; the rights against forcible removal from our land and territories, the right to practice and revitalise our cultural traditions and customs; the right to provide education in our languages; the right to establish our own media in our languages; the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies from exercising the right to development; the right to have our own traditional medicines and health practices; the right to redress and restitution for our land, territories and resources that have been taken away from us without our free, prior and informed consent; the right to determine our identity, development and institutions; and many other rights.

Amendment of the Declaration:

It is worth mentioning that General Assembly has made some significant amendments of the Declaration. No doubt, these amendments diminish and eliminate the rights of the indigenous peoples. These are:

1.       Deleted the words ‘by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures’ from the Article 8(2)(d) after the words ‘any form of forced assimilation or integration’.

2.       Deleted the words ‘significant threat to’ from the Article 30(1) between the words ‘unless justified by a’ and ‘relevant public interest’.

3.       Inserted the new words ‘or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States’ to the end of the Article 46(1).

In addition, one paragraph (no. 13) has been deleted from background of the Declaration adopted by HRC while new two paragraphs (no. 1 & 23) have been inserted in the background of the Declaration adopted by the General Assembly. Some new words ‘as well as Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action’ have also been inserted in the paragraph no. 16.

Bangladesh role:

It is unfortunately to say that Bangladesh has abstained with Bhutan from Asia. After the adoption the declaration, Bangladesh mission representative made statement as of below;

ISHRAT JAHAN AHMED (Bangladesh) said that her delegation supported the rights of any group that was disadvantaged.   Bangladesh adhered to all major international human rights instruments and supported the rights of indigenous peoples.  However, the Declaration, in its present form, contained some ambiguities, particularly that “indigenous people” had not been identified or explicitly defined in any way.  Further, the text did not enjoy consensus among Member States.  Under such circumstances, Bangladesh had abstained in the vote.

Vote on DRIP adoption:

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (document A/61/L.67) was adopted by a recorded vote of 143 in favour to 4 against, with 11 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States.

Abstain: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa, Ukraine.

Absent: Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Montenegro, Morocco, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.

** Montenegro also voted in favour so it will be 144 countries.

Please find the declaration at


In solidarity,

Kapaeeng Watch

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