Australia backs UN indigenous rights declaration

April 3, 2009 04:29

Australia adopted the UN's declaration of indigenous rights on Friday, reversing its earlier opposition in what officials said was an effort to "reset" relations between white Australians and Aborigines. The support for the non-binding declaration is a largely symbolic step, but extends a dramatic shift in policy on Aborigines since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was elected 17 months ago. "In supporting the declaration Australia takes another important step toward resetting relations between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians," Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said at a ceremony in the national capital, Canberra, that was broadcast nationally. Australia was one of just four nations that voted against the UN declaration when it was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007. The United States, New Zealand and Canada were the other opponents, while 143 countries voted in favor and 11 abstained.

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