By Steven Newcomb
However, in 2007, the United States claimed that the collective rights expressed in the Declaration (e.g., Article 3) are not the same as Article 1 rights expressed in the Human Rights Covenants in international law. The U.S. also claimed that the U.N. Working Group had been given a “mandate,” specifically, “to articulate a new concept, i.e., self-government within the nation-state.” Yet, the U.S. government provided no document to support this claim, nor could it because the Working Group was never given such a mandate.
“Christian discovery,” “conquest,” and the idea of “diminished” Indian sovereignty are some of the foundational categories of the status quo, being actively used by the U.S. court to the detriment of Indian nations. The Declaration does not do away with a dominating framework that is in violation of our inherent sacred birth rights and our fundamental human rights as indigenous nations and peoples.
By Marc Dadigan
“For the United States, the Declaration’s concept of self-determination is consistent with the United States’ existing recognition of, and relationship with, federally recognized tribes . . .” the paper says.
The problem here is that the system of federal tribal acknowledgment is incredibly inefficient and plagued with corruption, politics and an utter lack of transparency. I doubt there are any experts on this issue who would agree the federal recognition process would jive with the U.N.'s idea of self-determination.
So to paraphrase, the Obama administration says the U.S. government will respect the rights of this country’s indigenous people, but the government maintains the ability to decide who’s indigenous.
And it’s been well documented that the government is very bad at making these decisions.
Another of my discussions of the UN declaration:
Help me out, legal scholars. Obama says the US will "lend its support" to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. What makes this anything other than his personal, temporary, and reversible position? What happens if the next president says the US doesn't support the UN declaration?
Obama's personal feelings about "aspiring" to the declaration don't mean anything to me. They don't have the force of law or even the illusion of it. In the long term, they're irrelevant.
Given the right-wing cheering of Bush's preemptive war and violation of the Geneva Conventions, who thinks a conservative president will ever bow to world opinion on indigenous rights? Not me.