The United Nations has labeled the next 10 years as the second Decade of Indigenous Peoples after the first one apparently didn’t live up to its promises.
In an announcement December 20, the UN General Assembly formally adopted the resolution that proclaimed the decade, which commenced January 1, 2005.
“A major goal of First Nations in Canada and Aboriginal peoples around the globe was to ratify the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and have it entrenched as part of the UN Convention before the end of the Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples,” said Assembly of First Nation’s Chief Phil Fontaine.
“It is unfortunate that we are not yet able to celebrate this achievement, but we believe this can and should be achieved early in the New Year. The next Decade of the World’s Indigenous People should focus on implementing the rights of Indigenous peoples based on the principles of the Draft Declaration.”
Fontaine went on to say that although the declaration is a step in the right direction, it must be implemented – soon.
“It is crucial to ensure the full recognition and exercise of First Nations rights as the way forward for Canada and First Nations,” said Fontaine. “Self-determination is directly linked to a better quality of life for all our people and is essential to making real progress.”
Pressure came from various Indigenous groups, government and non-governmental entities to ensure a second decade. It was approved without a vote.
Grand Council of the Crees spokesman Paul Joffe said however that a lot of progress was made in the past decade.
“When the Grand Council started going to the UN, a lot of the doors were closed,” said Joffe. “Now a lot of the Cree issues are at the forefront and we’re better represented internationally.
“The creation in the last decade of a permanent forum for Indigenous issues was a huge step forward for Native people, especially the Cree.”
The first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was proclaimed by the General Assembly in resolution 48/163 on December 21, 1993. It expired last December 10.
The main objectives were to strengthen international cooperation for solutions to problems of Native peoples. Areas highlighted include human rights, education, and health.
It’s hoped that the second decade will succeed in implementing new programs and providing aid to some of the poorest people in the world.