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A message from Reconciliation Australia, Sept 2007

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Reconciliation Australia welcomes the passing of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Reconciliation Australia Director and member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Professor Mick Dodson says, "It's an historic day for the world's Indigenous peoples. This is a landmark recognition of our rights that has been a long time in coming.

"The declaration is the product of 20 years of deliberation and discussion and sets a baseline of human rights standards for Indigenous people internationally," Professor Dodson said. "It's quite remarkable that this declaration received more voter support that the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

Our congratulations to all the Indigenous people from around the world who've worked so hard over two decades to achieve this significant declaration. They deserve our heartfelt appreciation."

The declaration was voted for by 143 countries with only four, including Australia, voting against it. "I'm disappointed that Australia belonged to the small minority opposing the declaration," Professor Dodson said. "At this critical time when Indigenous rights need to be recognised and respected more than ever, it's saddening that Australia failed to stand up. We should be leading the world in this area.

"The near-unanimous international support for this declaration tells us that countries around the world are recognising the importance of affirming and enshrining Indigenous peoples' rights. They are responding to the strong voices of Indigenous people calling for more recognition and more decision-making power.
"This declaration is not about Indigenous separatism; rather it lays down an internationally endorsed rights benchmark for Indigenous people, of whom there are 370 million globally," Professor Dodson said. Ban Ki-moon, chief of the UN, described the vote as a "moment when UN member states and Indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories and are resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all."

Contact: Claire Tedeschi 0418 633 277
Reconciliation Australia
Ph: +61 2 6273 9200 Fx: +61 2 6273 9201

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