Steady applause spilled through the assembly hall as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted 143-4. Eleven nations abstained from voting.
Sept. 13 will be remembered as “a day that the United Nations together with indigenous peoples reconciled with past painful histories and decided to march into the future on the path of human rights,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairwoman of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Still, the declaration's supporters couldn't ignore the four countries that voted against it: the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia--all nations with significant indigenous populations.
Indigenous leaders admonished the countries for failing to support the document, which establishes human rights standards worldwide.