In 2007, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 61/295, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This past week, the US endorsed the resolution, after initially voting against it along with Australia, Canada and New Zealand. All four nations have now endorsed it, making it unanimous.
The intent is purportedly to protect people like Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians against exploitation and denial of rights by the majority culture. In fact, it represents a breathtaking invasion of the sovereignty of any nation that contains a subculture that defines itself as ‘indigenous’.
The declaration has a long preamble and 46 articles. It does not contain a definition of ‘indigenous’, because
According to the Chairperson, Ms. Erica Irene Daes, Rapporteur of the Working Group, this was because “historically, indigenous peoples have suffered, from definitions imposed by others” (E/CN.4/Stib.2/AC.4/1995/3, page 3).
The ‘working group’ which developed the declaration did provide a definition, but it was never officially adopted by any UN body. Here’s part of it, which may give you an idea of their thinking:
Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them.
They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system.
Naturally, the Palestinian Arabs claim to be an indigenous people. By way of illustration, if this claim were to be upheld, what would the declaration imply?
Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
Palestinian Arabs can declare autonomous enclaves in the territories or even in Tel Aviv. These Palestans may be financed by contributions from Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.
Palestinian Arabs can write their own history, which must become part of Israel’s school curriculum.
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
Israel can make no law or take any action that affects Palestinian Arabs without first getting their consent.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.
Lands that Palestinian ‘tradition’ says belong to them do in fact belong to them.
1. Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other peoples across borders.
Palestinian Arabs can communicate with Hizballah guerrillas if they want to.
The declaration and definition above represent the product of postcolonial political theory, according to which an ‘oppressed’ people is defined as always right, and is entitled to ‘resist’ its ‘oppressors’. Note that the working definition of ‘indigenous’ excludes the ‘dominant sector’ of society, even though a dictionary definition only refers to origin, not socio-political status.
Indeed, by a non-political definition, a good argument could be made that the Jewish people is indigenous to the land of Israel, since there has been some Jewish presence even from Biblical times. A large number of the ancestors of the present-day ‘Palestinian people’ immigrated into the area in the 1800’s and afterward — just prior to and concurrent with the Zionist immigration — and thus are much less indigenous than they would claim. But of course a non-political definition wouldn’t serve the purposes of the UN.
There are other groups that have a much better claim to being ‘indigenous’ than the Palestinians; for example, the Kurds. I find it hard to believe that Turkey, Iraq, Iran or Syria would be prepared to grant them their ‘rights’ under this document.
It is absolutely certain that the great majority of Americans would not agree with radical postcolonial theory. But our politically correct officials have decided to sign on to this absurd document, perhaps out of guilt for their historical mistreatment and subsequent betrayal of responsibility to their own indigenous population.
If the President and the Congress wanted to actually improve the conditions of Native Americans, they could do so in many concrete ways. Most of these cost money, so instead they chose a bit of theater.
The UN is more and more becoming a venue for the application of radical political principles by the cynical non-democratic states that dominate it, in order to weaken or damage Israel and the West. The US has continued to participate in and support this institution over the years on the grounds that overall it does more good than evil. I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that this is not so.