Bush voted against UNDRIP (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) ostensibly because the declaration was subject to "conflicting interpretations and debate about its application" and therefore not "capable of implementation." If this standard applied to the U.S. Constitution, it would not exist.
In reality, Bush did not like that UNDRIP recognizes a range of rights that address corporate and governmental plundering of resources as well as abuse and discrimination.
Elections have consequences. President Obama recognizes that UNDRIP provides a framework for addressing the rights of indigenous peoples so he is now reviewing whether the U.S. should join 144 other countries with its endorsement.
Deadline for your two cents is tomorrow.
|Tonight's EcoAdvocates edition includes an outstanding post by boatsie on a successful, creative grassroots approach of Carrotmobs Turning Businesses Green, and Aji provides excellent original reporting on Nixon's Only Good Thing or why UNDRIP is needed in the U.S.|
Some governments have tried to portray UNDRIP as feckless to downgrade its perceived capability as a tool for change. Concern troll countries have either opposed UNDRIP or begrudgingly signed, only to warn that it will not achieve the intended goals. Critics try to "play down the significance" of UNDRIP as a nonbinding declaration that has no legal or "practical effect" but is merely "aspirational" with political and moral force. Yet, some governments refused support due to "legal concerns."
One thing some fear is disappearing dollar signs. A universal problem is the theft of natural resources and lands from indigenous peoples by both governments and corporations. The UNDRIP rights include self-determination; protection of land, natural resources, and sacred sites; and a key FPIC right or "free, prior, and informed consent" before indigenous peoples can be removed from their lands. (For more details, please read the UNDRIP or exmearden's diary.)
UNDRIP is not feckless. The UN's adoption of UNDRIP is a success story of a process that started in 1982 when the UN created a Working Group to address discrimination against indigenous peoples. (Ojibwa has written about an earlier attempt to address the rights of indigenous peoples back in 1923.) Moreover, UN "declarations are often a first step towards binding conventions."
While UN declarations are generally not legally binding, they are also recognized as providing important standards and a "significant tool" to assist indigenous people to eliminate human rights violations, and combat "discrimination and marginalization." UNDRIP provides an international consensus of rules and policies that should be observed as a majority of 144 states adopted it, and some of the no votes and abstentions have been reversed.
UNDRIP in the Courts
As noted by a former judge in New Zealand, UNDRIP will influence laws in countries as the principles of UNDRIP will find their way over time into both statutes and judicial opinions. In the U.S., one professor states how UNDRIP may not be enforceable in our courts, but international law and principles are important and relevant when courts address federal Indian law. [Source: Ronald Kakungulu, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A New Dawn for Indigenous Peoples Rights? (2009)] In fact, the principles of UNDRIP have already been advocated in some courts and tribunals.
UNDRIP in the Legislature
In 2008, Japan, in a resolution linked to UNDRIP, the "House of Representatives officially classified the Ainu as an 'indigenous people'" and the government created an expert panel to "determine future policies to uphold Ainu rights." In New Zealand, laws will be enacted to "define the bounds of engagement with the declaration," which also presents an opportunity for its citizens to discuss issues avoided for years. In addition, referenda on informed consent have been organized throughout Guatemala, and in Canada, a proposed bill requires Canadian mining companies to meet human rights standards to qualify for public monies.
UNDRIP in the Private Sector
In the private sector, last May, people from communities in Central America participated in a shareholder meeting of a mining company by proposing the corporation adopt a resolution based on UNDRIP's principle of free, informed and prior consent about proposed projects. While only 10% of the shareholders voted for the resolution, the shareholders learned about the mining's horrific impacts, including health, social conflict, contaminated water, criminalization of protests and cracked homes.
Support by the U.S. would provide a stronger tool globally, and in the U.S.
How to take action
Please submit written comments before July 15 to participate in the U.S. process to review UNDRIP.
And h/t Winter Rabbit, there is a petition for Congress on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Carrotmobs Turning Businesses Green
While 10:10:10 may seem like light years away, there's still time to get in on the ground floor of what promises to be "the largest day of carbon cutting the world has ever seen." As we go to press, 10:10 rapidly approaches 100,000 participants from over 120 countries, with activities ranging from installing solar panels in Kenya to bike repair workshops in San Francisco to organizing global Zero Carbon Concerts.
Here in the US, however, only one state, Washington, has signed up to be a 10:10 hub; so there's still great opportunity available for top end organizational expertise. But if the idea of heading up your state's 10:10 hub is a tad intimidating, surely most of us could consider signing up organizing a local CarrotMob..... which just so happens to be 10:10's number 1 tip for getting involved!
"Carrotmobs are cooler than boycotts" Time Magazine
Carrotmobs are grassroots neighborhood consumer activism. Put quite simply, the CM model revolves around engaging local businesses in bidding wars to determine which promises to donate the largest percentage of profits into energy efficiency upgrades FOLLOWING a shopping spree by hundreds of consumers participating in a ... you got it. CarrotMob. Listen in as founder Brent Schulkin explains:
Check out CM's successes since 2008 with reports from mobs in such diverse locales as Mexico, Finland, Japan, Thailand, Canada, and Germany link. In Seattle in 2009, for example, the Pike Brewing Co. donated 25% of $14,000 post a CarrotMob to energy efficiency and waste reduction while cutting in half the total cost of their retrofits by connecting Pike with Seattle City Light. And in Munich, Germany last October, Löwenzahn donated 30% of € 3500 to switch to green electricity, energy efficiency in lighting & refrigeration.
"We can do it with the carrot, not the stick ... it's positive cooperation. The best company wins, the consumer wins and the planet wins." Brent
Nixon's Only Good Thing
We joke that it was the only good thing Richard Nixon ever did.
In 1970, Richard Nixon announced a "New New Deal" for Indians, returning Taos Pueblo's sacred Blue Lake. The "New New Deal" was mostly the "Old Old Deal," but the exception – Blue Lake – demonstrates why signing UNDRIP is so important.
Blue Lake is the sacred heart of Taos Pueblo's tribal lands. Trespassing by outsiders desecrates it and dilutes its power. Maintaining its sanctity is crucial to the Pueblo's spiritual practices - indeed, to its very identity.
By 1900, outsiders had built huts, corrals, even outhouses on the lake. Prospectors illegally built a mine on adjacent tribal lands, jeopardizing the watershed. In 1906, Teddy Roosevelt "allocated" Blue Lake to the U.S. Forest Service – which, of course, did not protect Blue Lake's sanctity: The Forest Service even built living quarters on the shore.
In 1926, the Pueblo offered to forgo compensation for other stolen lands in exchange for the return of Blue Lake. The government rejected the offer - and paid no compensation. In 1933, Congress passed a weak law protecting "Indian use" of the land; the government did not issue the necessary permit until 1940. In 1951, the Pueblo sued and won – 14 years later.
In 1965, the tribe launched a campaign led by Pueblo elder Paul Bernal. They met repeatedly with members of Congress, federal agencies, Nixon staffers, and ultimately, with President Nixon himself, all to restore spiritual balance to the Pueblo by regaining control of its most sacred space.
On January 3, 1969, Rep. James Haley introduced HR 471, to return Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo. The bill languished for more than a year; on January 26, 1970, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) called on President Nixon to create a new "Indian policy," and to launch it by returning Blue Lake. On July 8, 1970, Nixon endorsed HR 471 as the first step in his "New New Deal" Indian policy. Members of Congress spent months attempting to block, or at least to dilute, the legislation, but on December 2, the Senate passed HR 471 by a vote of 70-12. On December 15, 1970, President Nixon signed HR 471 into law.
It may have been the only good thing Richard Nixon ever did . . . but it was a very good thing.
[Disclosure: The late Paul Bernal was the paternal uncle of Mr. Aji, whose own late father, Louis Bernal, likewise assisted in these efforts. For further reading, Mr. Aji recommends as the most accurate The Taos Indians and the Battle for Blue Lake.]
Contact Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at declaration [at] state [dot] gov, and urge an expedited review and a recommendation to the President to sign. Contact the White House and urge President Obama 1) to insist on an expedited review, and 2) to sign the Declaration. Be sure to CC President Obama's special adviser on Native American issues, Kimberley Teehee. For draft e-mails that you may adapt, borrow, or steal outright, go here.
EcoAdvocates is a new series initiated by Meteor Blades and Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, who are the founder-creators. This series focuses on providing more effective political pressure and taking action on environmental issues.
Contributing writers provide a diversity of perspectives including wind/energy/climate change; water; agriculture/food; mountaintop removal mining/coal; wildlife; environmental justice; and indigenous/human rights/civil rights. Contributing writers include: Bill McKibben, Jerome a Paris, mogmaar, boatsie, Aji, rb137, Ellinorianne, faithfull, Oke, Jill Richardson, Patric Juillet, Josh Nelson, beach babe in fl, Ojibwa, Muskegon Critic, Desmogblog, A Siegel, gmoke, DWG, citisven, mahakali overdrive, soothsayer99 and FishOutofWater.