Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Prime Minister
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A OA6

October 15, 2006

Dear Prime Minister,

In June, the overwhelming majority of members of the UN Human Rights Council voted to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was a momentous achievement for the advancement of international human rights.

The Declaration has been under development for more than two decades. Throughout all those years, Indigenous peoples in every region of the world have continued to be uprooted from their lands, subject to discriminatory laws and policies, and targeted for violence and repression.

The international community must send a clear message that such abuses not be tolerated any longer. The Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important framework affirming the right of Indigenous peoples to maintain their distinct cultural identities and calling on states and Indigenous peoples to work together in a new spirit of partnership.

States as diverse as Norway and Mexico have agreed that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an appropriate and effective framework for encouraging and guiding the reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous societies.

It was deeply disappointing therefore that Canada was one of only two states to vote against the adoption of the Declaration by the Human Rights Council.

Your government has failed to provide a credible explanation for its opposition to the adoption of a Declaration that Canadian officials played a key role in drafting. I believe that Canada’s opposition to the Declaration was unnecessary. Canada’s opposition was harmful to the cause of human rights.

This Fall, the Declaration will come before the UN General Assembly. I urge you to ensure that Canada does not take any action that would delay the adoption of this vitally important human rights instrument or in any way undermine the positive message of its adoption by the international community.


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