TWM Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

COMMENT:  See Press Release: Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust notice to NZ government.
Also read
United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in serious jeopardy (Feb 6, 2005)

6 October 2004
Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON

Dear Mr Goff

Consultation on the United Nations draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

1. The Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust requests the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade ("MFAT") to initiate robust consultation with Maori iwi, hapu, whanau, organisations and individuals on its proposed amendments to the Sub- Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights text of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ("draft Declaration").

2. The reasons for recommending consultation include:
- consultation is required by the Treaty of Waitangi;
- the draft Declaration itself includes an indigenous peoples' right to consultation when issues are considered by government that impact on indigenous peoples;
- the New Zealand government's credibility when suggesting amendments to the draft Declaration at the United Nations Working Group of the draft Declaration ("WGDD") is seriously undermined when other governmental and indigenous delegations learn that there was no consultation whatsoever with Maori iwi, hapu, whanau, organisations and individuals on the proposed amendments; and
- until there is consultation with Maori iwi, hapu, whanau, organisations and individuals, it is very difficult for Maori delegates at the WGDD to comment on, or respond to, any suggested amendments to the draft Declaration.

3. The consultation should take place before the next meeting of the WGDD, which starts on 29 November 2004.

4. Consultation with Maori iwi, hapu, whanau, organisations and individuals must be robust. We recommend that MFAT send out:
- copies of the draft Declaration;
- the government's proposed amendments to the draft Declaration; and
- information about the process involved in the drafting of the draft Declaration including the work completed by the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations and the process the draft Declaration would need to follow before adoption by the United Nations General Assembly.

5. We recommend at least a day hosted by government in which it:
- presents the background to the draft Declaration;
- presents its suggested amendments; and
- explains the United Nations process that the draft Declaration must go through for adoption by the United Nations.


6. There should be an opportunity for Maori individuals who have attended the WGDD to, in private, present their perspective on negotiations on the draft Declaration thus far coupled with indigenous caucus perspectives. It could be followed by a session for all Maori iwi, hapu, whanau and organisation representatives and individuals to discuss the government's proposed amendments in private to assess whether there is room to accommodate the government's concerns. At the end of the day, it would be appropriate to allow time for an open-discussion between government officials and Maori iwi, hapu, whanau and organisation representatives and individuals.

7. Following the consultation day, we recommend allowing Maori iwi, hapu, whanau and organisation representatives and individuals time to devise their own respective responses to the government's proposed changes to the draft Declaration. These could then be forwarded to the government (if they feel it appropriate) or Maori individuals who plan to be present at the WGDD meeting in November and can present their views.

8. The trustees recognise that the time frames for robust consultation are tight. However, this problem is of the government's making.

9. We will be disseminating this letter widely to our Maori networks.

10. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Tracey Whare
Trustee
Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust

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