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The Right Of Aboriginal People
On the 13th of September 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This document strives to protect the rights of aboriginal people in different countries. These protections go deeper than basic human rights, and include rights to land preservation, self-determination, self-government, language, religion, and cultural heritage. Unsurprisingly, many countries were opposed to this declaration and continue to ignore some of its points even today. Considering the fact that a General Assembly Declaration is not a legally binding document in the eyes of international law, these countries remain within their rights to do so.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was developed to help aboriginal communities preserve their cultures and identities, as well as acquire a certain amount of independence. The rights of the indigenous peoples are difficult to define, due to the fact that each aboriginal nation has functioned as a distinct society long before their first contacts with the Europeans. As such, these rights were developed by the inner workings of the legal systems of these societies. The declaration aims to ensure that these rights are not infringed upon by the laws imposed by the external sources. It took over twenty five years to develop this document, but it is still considered lacking by many of the UN member countries.
The reception of this declaration was highly controversial. On one hand, African countries accepted it willingly and with vigor. Bolivia was the first country to adopt the declaration as a legal law. They embraced this policy with all they had because of the years of horrid discrimination and scorn that local people suffered at the hands of aliens from other countries. However, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, and Australia rejected the declaration right away. Their main concerns revolved around the rights to land and independence. Considering the highly unstable situation with the local indigenous communities, the adoption of this declaration could have caused civil wars in these countries.
Despite the fact that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is not a legally binding document and adopting the principles it advocates cannot be enforced by the UN, the opposing countries eventually changed their minds. Some shrewd political maneuvering allowed them to adopt the declaration with some changes that prevented the occurrence of conflicts.
Aboriginal people are still discriminated against in many countries. However, the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was a major victory in the fight against this situation. Hopefully, further work in this direction will produce even better results.