OAS Declaration On the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Attorney: Kim Jerome Gottschalk

Text: A 17 year wait pays off for Indigenous Peoples. Image courtesy of OAS.On June 15, 2016, after decades of work with indigenous peoples, the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The OAS consists of the 35 independent states of the western hemisphere.  NARF represented the National Congress of American Indians in this program, which included indigenous representatives from across the hemisphere, since 1999.

Since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007, the guiding principle during the American negotiations was that all adopted standards would be at least as stringent as those in the UNDRIP.  To that end, Article XXXIX of the American Declaration provides that:  “The rights contained in this Declaration and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.”

The American Declaration goes beyond the UNDRIP in several respects including measures related to treaties, the rights of children, and the rights of peoples in voluntary isolation.  The American Declaration will be used within the Inter-American Court on Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to build on an existing body of decisions supporting indigenous rights.

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