The UN General Assembly adopted a declaration Thursday that provides for rights of native peoples worldwide despite objections from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who argued that it was incompatible with existing laws.
The declaration affirms the equality of the more than 370 million indigenous peoples and their right to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions. It also establishes standards to combat discrimination and marginalization and eliminate human rights violations against them.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was approved by the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2006 and sent to the 192-member General Assembly for adoption. The assembly put off final approval in December but pledged to vote before the end of its current session next week.
The declaration, which is not legally binding, was approved by a vote of 143-4, with 11 abstentions.