Authors: Christina Eleftheriou (WLU)
Editor: Hayley Brackenbridge and Aarisha Haider

The ‘United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ (UNDRIP) focuses on the most important concerns that affect Indigenous communities. UNDRIP was first created in 1982 (2) by a group called the ‘Working Group on Indigenous Populations’ (3, 4). Their main motivations stemmed from the oppression that Indigenous peoples frequently experience, resulting in many decades of drafting sequences until this declaration was officially adopted (1, 2, 3). The first draft declaration submission to the sub-commission on the ‘Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities’ was approved in 1994 (4) and new revisions are continuously being made to satisfy concerns found by different States. A major disagreement within this declaration involved the right to self-determination and control over natural resources on Indigenous lands (3). After years of revision, UNDRIP was accepted by the United Nations General Assembly (2). The official agreement contained 46 different articles describing specific rights and protocols to ensure the protection of Indigenous peoples (3). In order to guarantee that Indigenous populations can have an overall greater quality of life and cooperate with government officials, specific themes are prioritized throughout this declaration (1). In 2007, UNDRIP was accepted by the majority of 144 nations (3, 4). Canada initially did not sign on; but has since reverted their initial response and voted in favour of this declaration (3, 4). As of April 2009, 182 nation-states in the world have accepted the implementation of this article, and therefore, are continuously striving to protect the rights of Indigenous individuals (3, 4).

  1. O’Faircheallaigh C. International Recognition of Indigenous Rights, Indigenous Control of Development and Domestic Political Mobilisation. Australian Journal of Political Science [Internet]. 2012 Dec 7;47(4):531–545. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2012.731484

  2. O’Sullivan D. Between Indigenous Paramountcy and Democracy: How Differentiated  Citizenship and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Could Help Fijian Self‐determination. Australian Journal of Politics & History [Internet]. 2018 Jan 25;64(1):129–141. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/ajph.12424

  3. United Nations Children’s Fund. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for Indigenous Adolescents [Internet]. New York: UNICEF Human Rights Unit; 2013 Jan [cited 2020 Nov 12]. Available from: https://heritagebc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/UNDRIP-for-indigenous-adolescents.pdf

  4. United Nations: Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Indigenous Peoples. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [Internet]. United Nations; 2007 [cited 2020 Nov 12]. Available from: https://www.un.org/development/desa/Indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-Indigenous-peoples.html

Additional Resource

  1. The Government of Canada's website on implementing UNDRIP: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/declaration/index.html