The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “the framework for reconciliation.”
Indigenous peoples globally continue to face discrimination, dispossession of their lands and resources, forced assimilation, and other grave human rights abuses. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the most comprehensive international human rights instrument to specifically address their economic, social, cultural, political, civil, spiritual, and environmental rights.
In its own words, the Declaration sets out minimum standards necessary for the “dignity, survival and well-being” of Indigenous peoples.
The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the Declaration on September 13, 2007. This historic adoption followed more than 20 years of deliberation and debate in which Indigenous peoples worked directly with states to elaborate upon and advance their human rights!
The Declaration affirms the inherent, or pre-existing, collective human rights of Indigenous peoples, as well as the human rights of Indigenous individuals. It provides a framework for justice and reconciliation, applying existing human rights standards to the specific historical, cultural, and social circumstances of Indigenous peoples.
CFSC and the UN Declaration
Quakers worked in solidarity with Indigenous partners for more than two decades toward the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canadian Friends Service Committee participated in the UN Working Groups where the Declaration was negotiated, as well as the intense lobbying efforts that resulted in its adoption by the United Nations.
Since that time, CFSC has continuously supported efforts to see the Declaration implemented. With our partners we work on legal, political, and social implementation.
This work has included producing a book, giving presentations to politicians and government employees, and innumerable public talks and private discussions. All of these efforts have been to educate, inform, and move the implementation of the Declaration forward. See this example panel including CFSC’s Jennifer Preston:
After many years of effort by so many, including CFSC, Bill C-15, An Act Respecting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples became law on June 21st, 2021.
The Act was built from Romeo Saganash’s Bill C-262, which CFSC had also been very involved with. CFSC worked with our Indigenous as well as faith partners to continue to support the Declaration throughout the process. We are now working together to ensure the implementation of this legislation.
Read about the journey to achieving Declaration legislation in Canada and the impact that this legislation will have.
Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples
An important way in which CFSC engages in our work on the UN Declaration in Canada is through our involvement with the Coalition for the Human Right of Indigenous Peoples. The is an informal non-partisan group of Indigenous peoples’ and human rights organizations that seeks the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. See these recent joint statements from the Coalition.
Learn more about the UN Declaration
Bill C-15 and the Implementation of Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights in Canada resource from the Global Indigenous Rights Research Network. (2021)
Educational resource developed by KAIROS with support of multiple member churches seeking to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (2017)
A short version of the Declaration – Video made by 46 Indigenous representatives.
- Know Your Rights! The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions
- The Business Reference Guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Statements of support worldwide for the UN Declaration, featuring support from the UN, international agencies, governments, civil society groups, and Indigenous peoples.
Further resources on Indigenous rights.
Get your copy of the Declaration
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is available:
|Pocket size copies|
Pocket size copies of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are available in both English and French. Contact us to place an order (50 cents per booklet plus shipping).
“The Declaration is a visionary step towards addressing the human rights of Indigenous Peoples” proclaims United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “[I]t provides a momentous opportunity for States and indigenous peoples to … promote reconciliation and ensure that the past is not repeated.”
Edited by Jackie Hartley, Paul Joffe, and CFSC’s Jennifer Preston, Realizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Triumph, Hope, and Action documents the story of the Declaration from idea to adoption by the UN. A very readable introduction to this fascinating and important topic.