The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples

The UN General Assembly adopted a joint declaration on indigenous peoples on 13. September 2007. The declaration was drawn up in close collaboration between states and various indigenous groups.

The UN General Assembly adopted a joint declaration on indigenous peoples on 13
September 2007. The declaration was drawn up in close collaboration between states and various indigenous groups. The declaration contains important guidelines for further work on understanding the rights of indigenous peoples, although it is not a binding document in international law. It both contains provisions about fundamental needs such as food, health and education and provisions about the use of traditional resources and land areas.

The Norwegian authorities have played an active part in the work on the indigenous peoples declaration since it started in 1984. The Government’s goal has been to arrive at a declaration that can help strengthen the legal protection afforded to the world’s indigenous peoples. In its work, the Government has cooperated closely with the Sámediggi, which has been represented at all times within the Norwegian delegation to the negotiations on the indigenous peoples declaration in the UN.

Background:
The UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) appointed a working group in 1982 with the remit of highlighting the situation of indigenous people the world over and presenting proposals for international legal standards for the nation states’ policy in relation to indigenous peoples. The working group sent its proposal to the UN’s Human Rights Commission for further consideration in 1994. The Human Rights Commission appointed a new working group in 1995 - the UN Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – which was to consider the proposal and submit a proposal for a joint declaration on indigenous peoples. The working group consisted of participants from all over the world, and the Norwegian delegation consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sámediggi.

The working group held its final meeting on January 2006. On this basis, the chair of the working group summed up its work and presented its proposal, which was sent to the Human Rights Council in the UN. The Council endorsed the working group’s proposal in June 2007 and sent a recommendation to the UN General Assembly.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples