UK backs USA against tribal peoples

December 9, 2004

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Tribal peoples are appealing to the British government on UN Human Rights Day (December 10) to stop following the USA in opposing their rights. The UK and the USA are together blocking an historic UN declaration on Indigenous rights, claiming that collective human rights do not exist. Collective rights are essential for the survival of tribal peoples.

This year marks the end of the UN Decade of Indigenous Peoples, during which a draft declaration on their rights was completed following hundreds of consultations with Indigenous representatives. If agreed upon it would stand beside the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, marking a turning point for Indigenous peoples. But at the latest round of talks in Geneva last week the UK and the USA continued to stall the declaration's progress.

Inuit woman Dalee Sambo Dorough from Alaska says, 'Is British foreign policy simply to follow the US? They are safeguarding the profits of the multinationals, not human rights…  Is this Tony Blair's idea of spreading what he calls the values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and justice for the oppressed?'

Armand MacKenzie, an Innu man from Quebec, adds, 'Our society depends on sharing and on collective land ownership. The hunter must share his food today because tomorrow he may rely on someone else. The notion of the competitive individual winning out at the expense of all else is very foreign to us.'

For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or [email protected]