On April 19, 2010, Carlos Mamani, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) received a roaring applause when he stood up and declared, "I am very pleased that today, New Zealand has declared its support for the Declaration. In doing so, the Government of New Zealand has reaffirmed the principles of respect, non-discrimination and good faith enshrined in the Declaration."
"Today's announcement restores our mana and our moral authority to speak in international fora on issues of justice, rights and peace," stated New Zealand's Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr. Pita Sharples.
"While the declaration is non-binding, it both affirms accepted rights and establishes future aspirations. My objective is to build better relationships between Maori and the Crown, and I believe that supporting the declaration is a small but significant step in that direction," added New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key.
When the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (hereinafter simply Declaration) on September 13, 2007: 143 countries voted in favour, 11 abstained, while 4 countries (New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States) opposed the Declaration.
The day following New Zealand's announcement, Washington's U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice announced that the U.S. would be reviewing it's opposition to the Declaration.
Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean, in her March 03, 2010 Speech from the Throne, declared: "A growing number of states have given qualified recognition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our Government will take steps to endorse this aspirational document in a manner fully consistent with Canada's Constitution and laws,"
Despite the apparent reversal of positions, it remains to be seen when Canada or the U.S. will affirm the Declaration, or what caveats they will demand in return.
View more information on the UN website
View the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
View the 2010 Canadian Speech from the Throne
View April 19, 2010 United Nations press release
View April 20, 2010 New Zealand Government (office of Pita Sharples) press release
View April 20, 2010 New Zealand Government (office of John Key) press release
View April 20, 2010 The New Zealand Herald article
View April 23, 2010 Indian Country Today article
View May 3, 2010 Indian Country Today article
Source: United Nations website, New Zealand Government