WASHINGTON – In an important step toward upholding and promoting the United States' commitment to international human rights at home, President Obama has announced that the U.S. will lend its support to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The decision is a reversal of the position taken by the Bush administration in 2007, when the U.S. voted against UNDRIP even as 145 nations supported it.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights at Home Campaign (HuRAH Campaign) have long called for unqualified endorsement of UNDRIP, which articulates the rights set forth for indigenous peoples in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program and steering committee member of the HuRAH Campaign:
"We commend the Obama administration for endorsing this important declaration and rectifying the Bush administration's rejection of an essential human rights document. Unqualified endorsement of this declaration is essential to protecting the rights of all indigenous peoples, especially Indian and Alaska Native nations in the United States. The administration should work in close partnership with indigenous peoples and tribal governments to address the serious human rights challenges that continue to face indigenous communities in this country."
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"Guaranteeing basic human rights for our indigenous population should be considered a priority and we are happy to see that the Obama administration agrees. We will continue to work with Congress and the administration to ensure that it remains so. We are hopeful this endorsement will lead to a renewed effort to bolster human rights protections both here in the U.S. and abroad."
The following can be attributed to Professor Lisa Crooms, chair of the HuRAH Campaign:
"The Obama administration's endorsement of the Declaration is a welcome first step towards matching U.S. rhetoric on human rights with concrete actions. Effective promotion and implementation of the declaration will require the administration to work in full partnership with indigenous peoples and civil society to build a human rights infrastructure here at home."
The ACLU and the HuRAH Campaign also urged the Obama administration to issue an executive order to reconstitute the Inter-Agency Working Group on Human Rights, which is essential to promoting and implementing UNDRIP and other declarations and ratified treaties across the government.
The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is available online at: www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/drip.html
The HuRaH statement in support of the UNDRIP is available here: www.hurahcampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/UNDRIP-HuRAH-Statement.pdf