President Obama has announced the United States will sign on to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples following years of opposition. Obama disclosed the U.S. reversal in a speech before tribal leaders at the White House.
President Obama: “And as you know, in April, we announced that we were reviewing our position on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And today I can announce that the United States is lending its support to this declaration. The aspirations it affirms, including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples, are one we must always seek to fulfill.”
The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the sweeping declaration granting Native peoples the “right to self-determination” in 2007 following over 20 years of debate. The U.S. was the last major country to sign on. In a video statement, Susan Masten of the Indian Law Resource Center hailed Obama’s announcement.
Susan Masten: “Governments across the world finally recognize that indigenous people are here and going to be here forever and that we have rights—property rights, resource rights and the rights for self-determination. So I want to commend President Obama for having a vision for human rights. And this piece — his efforts today is the most significant thing that’s happened in international human rights in the decades.”