On September 13th, 2007 after more than twenty-five years of consultation, discussion, and debate the UN adopted General Assembly Resolution 61/295 - the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Initiative on Indigenous Rights is part of the Carr Center's Human Rights in Education Program, and is led by Carr Center Fellow Lise Balk King.
A Unique Moment:
The modern human rights paradigm began in 1948 with the U.N. adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). From this simple document of thirty articles, which had no force in law, the entire human rights apparatus - the UN Human Rights Council, more than a dozen binding U.N. conventions (treaties), regional human rights bodies like the European Court, Commission, and Convention on Human Rights, the American Court, Commission, and Convention on Human Rights, treaty bodies, U.N. Special Rapporteurs, national human rights entities, the elaboration of more than a hundred new national constitutions, and the creation of thousands of NGOs devoted to human rights - has emerged in just sixty years.
With the adoption of this long overdue Declaration, there is a unique opportunity to educate, promote, and celebrate Native American rights in the U.S.
Given the complicated and conflicting histories of US-Tribal relations, American Indians/Alaskan Natives are one of the most oppressed, marginalized, and exploited groups in the U.S. There is a critical need for U.S. tribes to understand how this declaration may impact them either as individual members or as a collective, because there has been little effort to connect rights in Indian Country with the international human rights paradigm. This both reflects a pattern in the U.S. itself as well as the complicated challenges of the political and legal relationship Tribes have provided by the Constitution of the United States, treaties, courts decision, and their own sovereignty.