“On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres See Part 2 below
“Our desire for Makarrata is about self-determination, genuine partnership and moving beyond survival. It’s about putting our future into our own hands,
Makarrata was needed because the Apology and successive reforms from both sides of politics have not on their own delivered healing and unity for the nation, or enough progress for Aboriginal people.”
NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See Part 1 Below
What is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
A declaration is a statement adopted by governments from around the world. Declarations are not legally binding, but they outline goals for countries to work towards.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) represents 20 years of negotiation between Indigenous peoples, governments and human rights experts, and argues that Indigenous peoples all around the world are entitled to all human rights, including collective rights.
The rights within the Declaration, which was formally adopted by Australia in 2009, set standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples.
Why have a Declaration for Indigenous peoples?
The Declaration is necessary to combat the policies of assimilation and integration employed by colonisers throughout the world that have uprooted, marginalised and dispossessed First Nation peoples. This common history of dispossession created many circumstances that remain unique to Indigenous cultures. These groups bear similar marks of colonisation, while continuing to practice their incredibly diverse cultures and traditions.
The rights of all people are protected through international law mechanisms. However, what these fail to provide to Indigenous peoples are the “specific protection of the distinctive cultural and group identity of indigenous peoples as well as the spatial and political dimension of that identity, their ways of life.” Prior to the Declaration there was a lack of a legal guarantee of Indigenous communities to their collective rights, such as ownership of traditional lands, the return of sacred remains, artefacts and sites, and the guarantee of governments to honour treaty obligations.
What does the Declaration mean for Australia?
The Declaration sets out rights both for individuals and collective groups. This reflects the tendency of Indigenous groups around the world, to organise societies as a group (a clan, nation, family or community). An example of these group rights is the acknowledgment that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the right to own country, hold cultural knowledge as a group and the right to define their groups.
Some other rights secured in the document include, the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, self-determination and self-government. Many of these rights are already secured through Commonwealth and State legislation. However, the Declaration is Australia’s promise that mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be able to benefit from these rights.
The significant disadvantages currently faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia only serve to highlight the ongoing relevance and importance of the Declaration.
What is self-determination and why is it important?
Self-determination is a key part of the Declaration, and is a right unique to Indigenous communities around the world. Self-determination can only be achieved through the consultation and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the formation of all policies and legislation that impacts upon them. Self-determination is characterised by three key elements that require Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have:
Choice to determine how their lives are governed and the paths to development
Participation in decisions that affect the lives of First Nation peoples.
Control over their lives and futures, including economic, social and cultural development.
A campaign for Makarrata launches in Sydney today Thursday August 9, when Aboriginal people and their supporters will walk from Hyde Park to the NSW Parliament.
Led by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO), the walk will call on Parliamentarians to join a movement for a better future for Aboriginal people, and all Australians.
NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See said that the walk will promote a positive alternative agenda for Aboriginal affairs in the state. .
Makarrata is gift from the Yolngu language. It means coming together after a struggle. It has been used nationally since the National Aboriginal Conference in the late 1970’s and featured prominently in the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“What we have seen to date are disconnected stepping stones towards a vague future focused on survival. What we need is a clear pathway for Aboriginal people to thrive, and for all Australians to walk with us on this journey.
“Our successes have been many, but we still face significant challenges. We want to see increased prosperity for Aboriginal families across the state, with more of our people going to university and getting better jobs.
“We want to see our children flourishing; walking proudly and successfully in two worlds. Taking part in the economy and enriching the country with their culture.
“By walking with us we are asking all political parties to commit to genuine partnership, to face our challenges together, and grow and support our successes.
“NSW is where the struggle started, and it is right that the largest state, with the largest population of Aboriginal people in the country takes genuine steps towards Makarrata,
“We are looking for all Australians to join us on our journey towards Makarrata,” Cr Ah-See said.
Walk with us, join us at www.makarrata.org.au
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.
Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.
Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated. Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.
2018 Theme: Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement
As a result of loss of their lands, territories and resources due to development and other pressures, many indigenous peoples migrate to urban areas in search of better prospects of life, education and employment.
They also migrate between countries to escape conflict, persecution and climate change impacts. Despite the widespread assumption that indigenous peoples live overwhelmingly in rural territories, urban areas are now home to a significant proportion of indigenous populations. In Latin America, around 40 per cent of all indigenous peoples live in urban areas — even 80 per cent in some countries of the region. In most cases, indigenous peoples who migrate find better employment opportunities and improve their economic situation but alienate themselves from their traditional lands and customs. Additionally, indigenous migrants face a myriad of challenges, including lack of access to public services and additional layers of discrimination.
The 2018 theme will focus on the current situation of indigenous territories, the root causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement, with a specific focus on indigenous peoples living in urban areas and across international borders. The observance will explore the challenges and ways forward to revitalize indigenous peoples’ identities and encourage the protection of their rights in or outside their traditional territories.
The observance of the International Day will take place on Thursday 9 August 2018 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the ECOSOC Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The programme can be found in Events. More information in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) page.
International Year of Indigenous Languages
Languages play a crucially important role in the daily lives of all peoples, are pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, peace building and sustainable development, through ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. However, despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate due to a variety of factors. Many of them are indigenous languages.
Indigenous languages in particular are a significant factor in a wide range of other indigenous issues, notably education, scientific and technological development, biosphere and the environment, freedom of expression, employment and social inclusion.
In response to these threats, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Resolution (A/RES/71/178) on ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.