Wp/nys/International Indigenous Organizations

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The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII or PFII) is the UN's central coordinating body for matters relating to the concerns and rights of the world's indigenous peoples.

Indigenous is another term for aboriginal and the terms can be used interchangeably, but Aboriginal (with a capital 'A') has come to be accepted as referring specifically to the indigenous inhabitants of all Australia except for the Torres Strait Islanders, who are the indigenous inhabitants of the Torres Straight Islands. The preferred term in Australia for Indigenous Australians is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but this is a bit of a mouthful. When it is clear from the context that Torres Strait Islanders are not involved, then Aboriginal people is preferred.[1] 'First Nations' is another acceptable term as it acknowledges that multiple Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations existed in pre-settlement times, but is tied to the land, i.e. an Aboriginal person is a First Nations person in Australia but not if they live elsewhere.

A problem is that the deprecated colonial era term Aborigines and the new term Indigenous (note capital 'I') can both suggest that all the different Aboriginal cultures are to be lumped together. The term Indigenous is even worse than Aborigines for this, as Aboriginal people need to have their own culture acknowledged rather than being treated as generic Indigenous people. Indigenous people on its own should not be used to refer to the Indigenous people of Australia, rather Indigenous Australians should be used (though as said above Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is preferred even though it is longer).

As a concrete example, Aboriginal children in Noongar lands must be taught in their own language Noongar and their own English dialect Neo-Noongar. This is of vital importance both to the children's education and to the preservation of the Noongar language.[2][3] However, if Aboriginal children are referred to as indigenous children, then teachers might be tasked with teaching all 'indigenous' children together in Australian English in a parody of muti-culturalism, where indigenous might include Somali refugee children, Maori children, etc.

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples[edit | edit source]

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was formally endorsed on 3 April 2009 by the Rudd Government.[4] The declaration is listed on the webpage of the Australian Human Rights Commission.[5] Endorsement is not the same as fully supporting or ratifying the declaration; like other governments (e.g. Canada), the Australian Government has reservations about the declaration.

Australian Objections[edit | edit source]

The Howard Government opposed the Declaration in the General Assembly vote of 2007, but the Australian Government under Kevin Rudd has since endorsed the Declaration. During the Howard Government, Mal Brough, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Liberal National Party MP, referring to the provision regarding the upholding of indigenous peoples' customary legal systems, said that "There should only be one law for all Australians and we should not enshrine in law practices that are not acceptable in the modern world."[6]

Marise Payne, Liberal Party Senator for New South Wales, further elaborated on the Howard Government's objections to the Declaration in a speech to the Senate on 10 September 2007:[7]

  • Concerns about references to self-determination and their potential to be misconstrued.
  • Ignorance of contemporary realities concerning land and resources. "They seem, to many readers, to require the recognition of Indigenous rights to lands which are now lawfully owned by other citizens, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and therefore to have some quite significant potential to impact on the rights of third parties."
  • Concerns over the extension of Indigenous intellectual property rights under the declaration as unnecessary under current international and Australian law.
  • The potential abuse of the right under the Declaration for indigenous peoples to unqualified consent on matters affecting them, "which implies to some readers that they may then be able to exercise a right of veto over all matters of state, which would include national laws and other administrative measures."
  • The exclusivity of indigenous rights over intellectual, real and cultural property, that "does not acknowledge the rights of third parties – in particular, their rights to access Indigenous land and heritage and cultural objects where appropriate under national law." Furthermore, that the Declaration "fails to consider the different types of ownership and use that can be accorded to Indigenous people and the rights of third parties to property in that regard."
  • Concerns that the Declaration places indigenous customary law in a superior position to national law, and that this may "permit the exercise of practices which would not be acceptable across the board", such as customary corporal and capital punishments.

In October 2007 former Australian Prime Minister John Howard pledged to hold a referendum on changing the constitution to recognise indigenous Australians if re-elected (he lost the election and indeed his seat). He said that the distinctiveness of people's identity and their rights to preserve their heritage should be acknowledged.[8]

Ngiyan waarnk[edit | edit source]

  1. "Aboriginal, Indigenous or First Nations?". Common Ground. Retrieved 3 January 2020
  2. Madison Snow. "Aboriginal English recognition in schools critical for improving student outcomes for Indigenous Australians". ABC News. 22 December 2019. Retrieved 24 December 2019
  3. Anna Goldsworthy. "VOICES OF THE LAND: In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language". The Monthly. September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2016
  4. "Experts hail Australia’s backing of UN declaration of indigenous peoples’ rights". UN News Centre. 3 April 2009. Archived 11 October 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  5. "UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  6. "Indigenous rights outlined by UN". BBC News, 13 September 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  7. "Matters of Urgency: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". Senate Hansard, 10 September 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  8. "Howard vows Aborigine rights vote". BBC NEWS – Asia-Pacific. Archived 13 October 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2019