The Grand Council of the Crees

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Eighth Session New York, May 18-29, 2009.

Deputy Grand Chief Ashley Iserhoff's Presentation

Posted: 2009-05-22

Item 4(a): Human rights: Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Oral Statement by Ashley Iserhoff, Deputy Grand Chief, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) on behalf of:

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Inuit Circumpolar Council
Assembly of First Nations
Québec Native Women
First Nations Summit
Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador (AFNQL)
First Peoples Human Rights Coalition
Indigenous World Association
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Moving Towards Effective Implementation and Consensus

Good morning Madame Chair, distinguished members of the Permanent Forum and all participants:

On behalf of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and eight other organizations, I would like to begin by proposing our Recommendation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


We urge the Permanent Forum to recommend to ECOSOC and the Human Rights Council that:

  1. all States be encouraged to endorse and implement fully the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  2. in countries that include Indigenous peoples, the Declaration be incorporated by such States when preparing their national reports to the Universal Periodic Review;
  3. increasing reference be made to the Declaration in relevant resolutions, decisions and reports of ECOSOC, Human Rights Council and other related bodies and mechanisms; and
  4. treaty monitoring bodies be encouraged to make increased reference to the Declaration when interpreting Indigenous peoples' rights and corresponding State obligations. 

The Declaration is both a beacon and catalyst for achievement, well-being and renewed hope.  The value of hope is deeply embedded in this work. 

The Declaration is an historic instrument that has universal application to countless Indigenous contexts in over 70 countries. In the 20 months since the adoption of the Declaration, the extreme interpretations of a few dissenting States have not been confirmed.  Instead, we are witnessing harmonious, cooperative and systematic approaches to effectively implement the Declaration.

With the endorsement of the Declaration by Australia, there are now only three States that have voted against.  Both New Zealand and the United States have recently indicated that they are in the process of reconsidering their positions. We urge these States to express unequivocal support for the Declaration.

We welcome the election of the United States to the Human Rights Council.  However, in its "Human Rights Commitments and Pledges", the United States omitted any mention of Indigenous peoples or the UN Declaration.  In honouring its commitments and pledges, we encourage the United States to strongly support the human rights of Indigenous peoples and assume an international leadership role. 

Canada has continued its ideological opposition to the Declaration, violating the rule of law both internationally and domestically. The current minority government has ignored the April 2008 Motion adopted by Parliament " calling for the Parliament and government of Canada to "fully implement" the standards in the Declaration.

Canada has failed to "uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights", as required of Human Rights Council members.  During its term, Canada has pursued the lowest standards of any Council member within the Western European group of States.

Indigenous peoples are working with many partners at home and on the world stage. We welcome all States to be a part of the positive international momentum that continues to grow with respect to the UN Declaration

Meegwetch.  Thank you.