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Canada led efforts to weaken original UN Indigenous rights declaration – CBC

Jan 15, 2024

Canada and Australia crafted government-friendly UNDRIP substitute in 2002-03, documents show

Canada led efforts to weaken the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations, working secretly with Australia to develop a watered-down substitute in the early 2000s, newly released Australian cabinet records show.

Crafting the state-friendly alternative was the Chrétien Liberal government’s idea, but one Australia backed as a pressure tactic against Indigenous leaders who wouldn’t alter their 1993 original draft, the records say.

“Australia has aimed to negotiate with Canada a strong and complete alternative text to counter the status of the existing draft and prevent it from attaining the status of customary international law,” two Australian ministers wrote in a now-public May 2003 cabinet submission.

Canada saw Australia “as its most promising partner” in drafting the new text and was prepared to devote “significant resources” to it, a 2002 Australian departmental memo to cabinet says.

It goes on to say, “Canada and Australia are likely to be criticized by hardline Indigenous groups, including some Australian Indigenous advocates, for developing alternative text and for doing so in a non-transparent, bilateral manner.”

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