May 14, 2015

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CONTACT: Matthew Legge, Program Coordinator – matt@quakerservice.ca – 416-920-5213
 
Canadian Quakers call on government to recognize right to nonviolent protest
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
TORONTO. Canadian Quakers are not backing away from their call for a boycott of products made in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
 
“We find it deeply disturbing that Canada would sign a memorandum of understanding with Israel labeling the BDS movement ‘anti-Semitic’. We wrote to the government about this and the reply was not helpful. We are hoping for clarification from all parties as to where they stand on this memorandum,” said Lana Robinson, Clerk of the Canadian Friends Service Committee (the peace and justice agency of Quakers in Canada).
 
BDS – short for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – is a movement led by Palestinian civil society and supported to varying degrees by human rights groups, as well as many Jewish individuals and groups. These include Independent Jewish Voices (in Canada), Jewish Voice for Peace (in the US), Boycott from Within (in Israel), and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.
 
“This [BDS] campaign is NOT based on hate,” said Eric Schiller, speaking from his perspective as a Quaker and human rights advocate.
 
“Conversely, it is based on genuine concern for justice and fairness in the difficult situation in Israel and Palestine. I would go further. Rather than being based on hate, this initiative is based on love. It is trying to provide a motivation for the peoples in the region to seriously address the issues between them in a peaceful manner.”
 
Canada signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel in January which calls BDS “the new face of anti-Semitism”.
 
The memorandum says both countries have “shared values of freedom of expression and assembly, democracy, and the rule of law.” However, neither the governments of Canada nor of Israel seem to consider freedom of expression to extend to nonviolent calls for boycott and divestment until social change occurs.
 
In Israel the “so-called Anti-Boycott Law allows for damage suits to be filed against any person or entity that calls for an economic, cultural or academic boycott of Israel or ‘areas under its control,’ a reference to the West Bank settlements,” according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
 
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told the United Nations Canada would take a “zero tolerance” approach to the BDS movement, the meaning of which remains unclear.
 
The Canada-Israel memorandum of understanding, which highlights both nations’ respect for the “rule of law” also fails to mention Canada’s position on illegal Israeli settlements.
 
Canada’s official policy states, “As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”
 
“If the government made Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions illegal in Canada, it would only increase the efforts of Canadians and others to bring justice to Israel and Palestine,” said Carl Stieren, an Ottawa Quaker.
 
On Wednesday, Quakers posted a list of Frequently Asked Questions about their positions on Israel/Palestine, following a CBC story drawing attention to Canada’s labeling BDS “anti-Semitic”.
 
Where do Canadian parties stand on attempting to chill criticism of Israel’s human rights violations by labeling it “anti-Semitic”?
 
Quakers have written to seek clarification from the leaders of all political parties about their positions on labeling the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement “anti-Semitic” and how such a claim has possibly been justified.
 
Quakers have a history of supporting human rights and social justice. This has included their engagement in the Kindertransport, which helped an estimated 10,000 Jewish children leave Germany before and during WWII. Quakers have supported boycotts in the past, such as the one organized by the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa. In 1947 Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their impartial relief work with the victims of war and famine.
 
Download this letter (PDF).
 
Find out more about Friends’ work in this area.

May 13, 2015

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1. What do Canadian Quakers want to see happen in Palestine/Israel?
We recognize that there has been violence by agents of the Israeli government and by militant individuals and groups of Palestinians and Israelis for far too long. We believe that a just peace is possible.
 
We call on all people not to put their faith in tanks, bombs, or military aggression, which we know, through a wealth of evidence, will never ensure the security or well-being of any society until there is a positive peace, grounded in justice and equality for all under the rule of law.
 
We are encouraged by all Israelis and Palestinians who engage constructively and nonviolently toward peace. Read our full position.
 
 
2. What do Canadian Quakers support with respect to boycott?
We encourage Canadian Friends, individually and corporately, to boycott products of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including those wrongly labelled as “made in Israel.”
 
We call upon the Canadian government to require that products made in the illegal settlements be accurately labelled as such.
 
We did not find unity to support a full boycott of Israel, just of products of illegal settlements. Read the addendum to our 2009 position adding support for a boycott of the products of illegal settlements.
 
 
3. Why do Canadian Quakers support a boycott of products of illegal settlements?
The Government of Canada supports UN resolutions which state that the settlements are illegal (under the Fourth Geneva Convention). Canada’s policy says, “The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” We agree.
 
Yet the Israeli government continues to plan for and construct new settlement units. While in direct contravention of international law, the Israeli government receives apparent impunity as many within the international community, including Canada, support settlement economies. We consider these illegal settlements immoral and a grave injustice and exacerbating factor in tensions in Israel/Palestine. We cannot in good conscience buy products from, or invest in companies operating in, illegal settlements.
 
 
4. Why did Canadian Quakers decide to take up this cause?
Quakers from Ramallah in the Israeli occupied West Bank asked Quakers around the world, including in Canada, to consider a boycott as led. We carefully considered multiple voices and perspectives from Palestine/Israel and after much discernment found unity to support a boycott of the products of illegal settlements.
 
 
5. Isn’t a boycott anti-Semitic? Are Quakers anti-Semitic?
Anti-Semitism is a very real problem in the world and we unequivocally condemn it every bit as much as we condemn other forms of prejudice and hate.
 
Labelling the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement anti-Semitic is both incorrect and unfounded.
 
The international BDS movement, coordinated by Palestinian civil society, is not calling for a boycott of Israel due to hatred of Jews. BDS is a pragmatic and nonviolent tactic which we hope will hasten change in an unbearable and protracted situation.
 
BDS is not an attack on Israeli citizens but an on-going critique of the worst practices of the Israeli government. One of the founding principles of democracy is the right to dissent and debate, and BDS can be seen through such a lens – an active and nonviolent form of dissent from illegal practises.
 
BDS is not an end, but merely a means. Once specific issues have been resolved, the boycott will end.
 
The BDS movement is supported by many Jewish individuals and groups. These include Independent Jewish Voices (in Canada), Jewish Voice for Peace (in the US), Boycott from Within (in Israel), and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.
 
We’ve expressed concerns with the Government of Canada’s labelling BDS “anti-Semitic” in an open letter.
 
 
6. But you don’t call for a boycott of other countries with poor human rights records – aren’t you singling out Israel?
Canadian Quakers were asked by Palestinian Quakers to consider a boycott. Further, calls for international involvement in BDS were initiated by Palestinian civil society. This is something which civil society of other countries with human rights problems have not done in the same way since the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa, one of the various past boycott movements which Quakers supported. The present circumstances made it our moral duty to consider becoming involved.
 
We equally and impartially support the human rights of all, everywhere in the world. But circumstances have not called us to actively participate in campaigns for the human rights of all in every country – nor would we have the resources to do so!
 
We have many ethical investment screens on our money. For example, Canadian Friends Service Committee is 100% fossil fuel industry free as defined by 350.org. Yet it would be preposterous to suggest that we divested from fossil fuels due to a hatred of people working in the fossil fuel industry. Rather, we did so from a positive desire for a more healthy and sustainable earth, recognizing that each of us has a moral responsibility to do our best to realize this collective vision.
 
 
7. Why do you think BDS will work?
The power imbalance between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people cannot be overstated. Therefore creative nonviolent tactics are required.
 
We hope that BDS, by nonviolently engaging at the grassroots, will, in spite of this unequal power dynamic and the incredibly superior force and funding available to the Government of Israel, continue to draw attention to the shocking and painful realities on the ground in Israel/Palestine.
 
We hope BDS will continue to bring pressure on the Government of Israel to honestly examine and improve its practices.
 
We believe that ultimately, this is part of a larger process towards a just peace, and that once a shift takes place and the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians improves, this will benefit all Israelis and all Palestinians.
 
 
Find out more about Friends’ work in this area.
 
Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is the national body of Friends in Canada. Canadian Friends Service Committee is the peace and social justice agency of Friends in Canada.
 
Download this FAQ in PDF format.

May 1, 2015

Fourteenth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
New York, New York April 20 –May 1, 2015
Agenda Item 7: Human Rights – Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – Eradicating Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls
Speaker: Dr. Dawn Lavell Harvard
 
Statement of the Native Women’s Association of Canada; Assembly of First Nations; International Indian Treaty Council; Akali Tange Association (Pargera Alliance) Papua New Guinea; Quebec Native Women; Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa; Southeast Indigenous Peoples’ Center; Pacific Region of Global Indigenous Caucus; First Peoples Human Rights Coalition; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Chiefs of Ontario; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); Amnesty International; Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA); Na Koa Ikaika KaLahui Hawaii; Samson Cree Nation; DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada; Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs; First Nations Summit
 
Combating violence against Indigenous women and girls, Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration)

Strawberry ceremony  in Toronto, February 14, 2015 honouring and mourning the loss of Indigenous women and girls.

Strawberry ceremony in Toronto, February 14, 2015 honouring and mourning the loss of Indigenous women and girls.

Violence against Indigenous women and girls and the State’s failure to respond appropriately to this problem are integrally linked to the fact that Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) women and girls experience widespread discrimination and are amongst the most socially and economically disadvantaged groups in Canadian society—a reality which is deeply rooted in colonization and its impacts. Discrimination against Indigenous women and girls is also embedded in the culture of the Canadian criminal justice system. The social and economic marginalization of Indigenous women and girls not only makes them prey for violent men, but is also used by officials as a justification for failing to protect them.
 
Despite the overwhelming statistics concerning disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls, the Government of Canada (GoC) has failed in their obligation to exercise due diligence to adequately prevent the violence, investigate reports of disappearances and murders, and bring perpetrators to justice. Authorities, and in particular the Federal government, have failed to implement a comprehensive, National Plan to address the violence, including measures that address the social and economic factors contributing to their risk of violence; appropriate training for police, prosecutors and judges in all jurisdictions, effective police protocols for dealing with missing Indigenous women and girls, reliable systems for disaggregated data collection, co-ordination across jurisdictions, and accountability mechanisms. So far, initiatives to address the disappearances and murders have been piecemeal. The GoC must take immediate and comprehensive action in order to fulfill its international human rights obligations to prevent, investigate, and punish acts of violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls throughout Canada.
 
The International Expert Group Meeting and numerous international bodies have identified eliminating violence against Indigenous women and girls and their safety and security in communities as being directly linked to implementing self-determination and dismantling the social, political, and economic barriers that impede the right of Indigenous Peoples. Persistent barriers to Indigenous women and girls’ human, civil, political, and social rights have caused them to experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, violence, and dispossession of lands and resources. The ramifications of these occurrences are grave and have had continued impacts on Indigenous communities.
 
Violence is a critical symptom of greater systemic discrimination and barriers to rights realization that exist in many states. Regeneration of Indigenous self-determination and nationhood is critical, as strong and independent governance structures and capacities will enable Indigenous Peoples to address poverty, violence, and the restoration of their traditional territories. Strong and meaningful implementation of the UN Declaration and the many rights it affirms will greatly contribute to improvement of safety, security, wellness, and strength for Indigenous societies and communities.
 
International conventions and other human rights instruments, such as the UN Declaration, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, denounce and condemn violence against women and girls. States must continue to work with Indigenous Peoples to ensure their domestic laws and policies respectfully enshrine the values and principles of these international instruments, and with the full participation and involvement of Indigenous Peoples, specifically women and girls.
 
More meaningful, fair, respectful, and comprehensive approaches are required and should be developed in conjunction with Indigenous women and girls. National and coordinated action is required by all governments, and must adhere to and acknowledge the holistic approaches of Indigenous Peoples.
We recommend the following action items be explored and implemented to meaningfully address the grave issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada:
 
1. All States, including Canada, need to develop and implement a comprehensive National Plan of Action to end violence against women, including addressing the social and economic conditions contributing to this violence: and immediately develop and implement a national strategy to address the disadvantaged social and economic conditions of Indigenous women and girls, including poverty, inadequate housing, low educational attainment, inadequate child welfare policies, and the over-criminalization of Indigenous Peoples.
 
2. Canada should initiate a national inquiry into the disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls that will lead to the design of independent, national, cross-jurisdictional mechanisms and protocols for police and justice officials. This inquiry should include a review of practices and measures related to child welfare, social assistance, housing, criminal justice, policing, and incarceration and identify where systemic correction is needed to dismantle institutionalized sexism and racism where Indigenous Peoples can meaningfully participate in the process. In addition, there can concurrently be a global study of violence against Indigenous women, coordinating and sharing data and other relevant information about trafficking of Indigenous women and girls.
 
3. GoC is urged to implement recommendations made by the recent reports by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Organization of American States: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding Canada’s conduct and the situation of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
 
4. States should ensure that Indigenous women and girls are actively and increasingly involved in all political, economic, and social processes so as to honour and strengthen the traditional roles and responsibilities of women in Indigenous Nations.
 
5. GoC needs to establish independent mechanisms for investigations into misconduct and discrimination within the criminal justice system and police forces and needs to establish independent mechanisms for investigating allegations of misconduct or discrimination within the federal, provincial or territorial components of the criminal justice system, to hold accountable those entities who commit acts of misconduct or discrimination.
 
Download this joint statement in PDF.
 
Read our blog from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

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April 30, 2015

Do you ever have questions about nonviolence?

nonviolence questions

CFSC is thrilled to announce that from August 24th to 30th, 2015 we will be gathering at Camp NeeKauNis (130 KM north of Toronto on the shores of Georgian Bay) to build community and share skills on these topics and more. Radical means “rooted” and this camp will help us all to discover and strengthen our roots in nonviolence.
 
The camp is open to anyone over the age of 16. Non-Quakers are welcome!

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This is an exciting opportunity, bringing together a number of extremely skilled facilitators with experiences building nonviolent direct action strategies in Canada, serving on Christian Peacemaker Teams in conflict situations like Iraq, working in prisons using Alternatives to Violence Program and much more. The camp will involve brief presentations (no more than 30 minutes at a time) and a lot of group work, discussions, role plays, and interactive learning.
 
Swim, enjoy the woods, stay in a cabin, learn from expert facilitators, and contribute to rich discussions and exercises.
 
What is the basic structure of a day?
7:00 am to 8:30 am Breakfast
8:30 am to 9:00 am Optional silent worship
9:00 am to 11:00 am Session 1
11:00 am to 12:00 pm Service work
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm Lunch and clean-up
1:30 pm to 5:30 pm Free time (swimming, games)
5:30 pm to 7:00 pm Dinner and clean-up
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Session 2
 
What are the goals for the camp?

  • To improve skills in nonviolent communication and community building;
  • To increase awareness of the history of effective nonviolence for social change, including exploring the opportunities, limitations and dilemmas of nonviolence;
  • To increase familiarity with several nonviolent techniques useful to build positive peace;
  • To be inspired and challenged by different activists and thinkers of nonviolence;
  • To have fun!
Camp NeeKauNis is on the shores of Georgian Bay, 130 KM north of Toronto

Camp NeeKauNis is on the shores of Georgian Bay, 130 KM north of Toronto

 
How do I sign up?
Just fill out this form and or mail it to 60 Lowther Ave, Toronto, ON, M5R 3P6. A $75 deposit payable to “Camp NeeKauNis” is also required to complete your registration.
 
The full fee for the week of camp including all meals and accommodation in a cabin is $525. The balance is payable when you arrive at camp. See the Camp NeeKauNis website for more details about the camp site.
 
The camp is open to all, and we’re hoping for a diverse group of participants. We have a small budget to help cover travel costs for those who need, but unfortunately it is only sufficient to assist several Young Friends to attend the camp.
 
Questions? Contact us by email or call 416-920-5213.
 


See you at camp!

April 27, 2015

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Fourteenth session
New York, 20 April-1 May 2015
Item 7 of the agenda
Human rights: (a) Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (with specific focus on economic, social and cultural rights)
 
Speaker: National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Assembly of First Nations
 
Joint Statement of the Assembly of First Nations; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); Amnesty International; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); Chiefs of Ontario; Congress of Aboriginal Peoples; First Nations Summit; First Peoples Human Rights Coalition; Indigenous World Association; KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Native Women’s Association of Canada; Samson Cree Nation; Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde reading joint statement at UNPFII 2015. Photo credit Monica Walters-Field

National Chief Perry Bellegarde reading joint statement at UNPFII 2015. Photo credit Monica Walters-Field

 
Madame Chair,
 
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples constitutes a principled framework for justice, reconciliation, healing and peace. Former Special Rapporteur James Anaya has underlined that “implementation of the Declaration should be regarded as political, moral and, yes, legal imperative without qualification.”
 
Full and effective implementation of the UN Declaration is a critical objective that continues to have both international and domestic dimensions. It is imperative thatStates, UN bodies and specialized agencies, in conjunction with Indigenous Peoples, addressa wide range of challenges, consistent with a human rights-based approach.
 
There are significant achievements that we all celebrate. Regretfully, there are also substandard actions and omissions – as well as widespread human rights abuses – that serve to undermine Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the UN Declaration.
 
Such conduct often entails the very serious challenge of “rights ritualism”. This term can be understood as ”a way of embracing the language of human rights precisely to deflect real human rights scrutiny and to avoid accountability for human rights abuses” .
 
States often acknowledge to human rights bodies Indigenous Peoples’ rights and related State obligations. They alsomake positive statements in this Forum to indicate that Indigenous rights are a priority concern.Yet too often States’ positions and actions at home or in international negotiations contribute to undermining Indigenous peoples’ rights and the UN Declaration.
 
International agencies
 
Some international agencies are taking seriously their commitments in the UN Declaration and other international human rights law. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) “will not participate in a Project that violates the human rights of indigenous peoples as affirmed by Applicable Law and the United Nations Declaration”. The UNDP affirms that the “term “indigenous peoples” refers to distinct collectives, regardless of the local, national and regional terms applied to them, who satisfy any of the more commonly accepted definitions of indigenous peoples.” The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also applies broad criteria in relation to the term “Indigenous peoples”.
 
In contrast, in October 2014, the use of the term “peoples” was undermined at a Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Korea. In seeking an informal response from the Office of Legal Affairs on the current use of the term “indigenous peoples”, the CBD Secretariat failed to provide essential documents, which would have been necessary for the Office to make an accurate assessment. The Conference of the Parties (COP) decided to use the term “Indigenous peoples and local communities” (instead of “Indigenous and local communities”) solely with the proviso that this change would have no legal effect whatsoever within the CBD now or in the future. Such action contradicts use of the term Indigenous “peoples” in the UN Declaration, the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) and other international law.
 
At the CBD meeting, Canada played a key role in opposing use of the term “peoples” – even though this term is enshrined in Canada’s Constitution and diverse federal legislation. States have no authority to restrict the status of Indigenous Peoples, in order to impair in any way theirright to self-determination or other human rights. Such actions constitute racial discrimination.
 
As we have discussed in previous years, there is an ongoing problem with States using procedural rules of international organizations to undermine Indigenous peoples’ human rights and evade related State responsibilities. Such violations of the rule of law run counter to the 2012 Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels.
 
Bill C-641 and Canada’s “impossible” claims
 
In Canada a member of the official opposition has introduced a private member’s bill on the UN Declaration, Bill C-641 – United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. The Bill calls on the government, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples, to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the UN Declaration.
 
This proposed legislation is consistent with the following commitment by States in the consensus WCIP Outcome Document:
 
We commit ourselves to taking, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, appropriate measures at the national level, including legislative, policy and administrative measures, to achieve the ends of the Declaration and to promote awareness of it among all sectors of society, including members of legislatures, the judiciary and the civil service.
 
This is consistent with the commitment of Canada’s Prime Minister in 2012: “And, of course, we endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This reaffirms our aspiration and our determination to promote and protect the rights of indigenous people at home and abroad.”
 
However, the government of Canada opposes Bill C-641, claiming “this proposal is simply impossible to support in view of Canada’s existing legal and constitutional framework.” This contradicts the November 2010 endorsement of the Declaration, when the government concluded: “We are now confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the Declaration in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.”
 
The central objection of Canada is article 19 of the Declaration and “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC).Canada states that article 19 “would provide first nations with a veto over any sort of legislation or development that concerns them”.
 
Government statements on C-641 follow a pattern when spokespersons are addressing the rights of Indigenous peoples. While claiming to support Aboriginal rights, the rhetoric is designed to alarm the public. Little regard is accorded to accuracy or justice.
 
The term veto is not used in the UN Declaration. Veto implies an absolute right or power to reject a law or development that concerns Indigenous peoples, regardless of the facts and law in any given situation. No balancing of rights would occur. No considerations of the rights of others or justice or non-discrimination or good governance would be permitted. Canada then further builds on this imagined frenzy of absolute power and declares:”it would be irresponsible to give any one group in Canada a veto”.
 
In rejecting Bill C-641, the federal government has failed to consider the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Tsilhqot’in Nation. The Court repeatedly referred to the constitutional right of Aboriginal title holders to give or withhold consent. Such title holders have the right to use and control the land and enjoy its benefits. Such right to control “means that governments and others seeking to use the land must obtain the consent of the Aboriginal title holders” (para. 76).
 
In Tsilhqot’in Nation, the Supreme Court ruled that, in the absence of Aboriginal consent, “legislation may be rendered inapplicable going forward to the extent that it unjustifiably infringes Aboriginal title.” (para. 92)
 
At the Committee on World Food Security in Rome last October, Canada would not accept a reference to FPIC without inserting a formal explanation of position in the consensus Report: “Canada interprets FPIC as calling for a process of meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples on issues of concern to them”. Such a view contradicts the policies of the Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as Supreme Court of Canada’s rulings that explicitly refer to “consent”.
 
In Tsilhqot’in Nation the Supreme Court highlighted Indigenous “consent” in 9 paragraphs; the “right to control” the land in 11 paras.; and the “right to determine” land uses in 2 paras. The Court added that the “right to control” means that the governments and others seeking to use the land must obtain the consent of the Aboriginal title holders unless stringent infringement tests are met. Moreover, the Court ruled that “incursions on Aboriginal title cannot be justified if they would substantially deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.”
 
“Consent” is not limited to Aboriginal title and applies to other Aboriginal rights. As described in 2004 by the Supreme Court in Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), the high end of the spectrum of consultation requires “‘full consent of [the] aboriginal nation’ on very serious issues.”
 
It is disturbing that the government of Canada claims to uphold the Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples and Canada’s Constitution, but ignores key rulings of Canada’s highest court that favour such peoples.
 
Recommendations:
 
1. THAT the Permanent Forum emphasize to States that implementation of the UN Declaration provides a common framework for reconciliation, justice, healing and peace.
 
2. THAT the Permanent Forum encourage UN treaty bodies and mechanisms, as well as the Universal Periodic Review process, to scrutinize the reports and human rights record of States, so as to effectively address rights ritualism. This should include ensuring that State claims are systemically compared to the concerns raised by Indigenous peoples and civil society.
 
3. THAT the Permanent Forum highlight the unprincipled positions and actions of those States, such as Canada, that undermine Indigenous Peoples’ human rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Such conduct prejudices Indigenous peoples globally and serves to weaken the international human rights system.
 
4. THAT the Permanent Forum and States take steps, in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, to ensure that State commitments and obligations are not violated in other international forums, as has occurred at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting following the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.A study should be undertaken by the Forum regarding how States are exploiting the weak procedural rules in international organizations to devalue the UN Declaration and other international human rights law.
 
5. THAT the Permanent Forum urge States, in conjunction with Indigenous Peoples, to develop legislation at the national level to ensure that laws are consistent with the UN Declaration. Each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and international human rights law. All forms of discrimination must be avoided.
 
Download this joint statement in PDF for the end notes.
 
Read our blog from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.