Foreshore and seabed information   |   Indigenous Rights

Prime Minister: NZ government's position on the
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Below is the text of a letter received from Helen Clark, Prime Minister, that sets out the NZ government's pitiful position on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the Human Rights Council on 29 June by a vote of 30 in favour, 2 against, and 12 abstentions. This is the reply from Ms Clark to a letter from one of our members who wrote to her in response to our action alert Act today for indigenous peoples' rights.

If you would like to contact Ms Clark about this, her details are: email, fax (04) 473 3579, or Freepost Parliament, PO Box 18-888, Wellington.


11 September 2006

"New Zealand's position on the text for the declaration has been articulated on many occasions. Over the eleven years of the negotiations in Geneva, governments have engaged with Maori on the declaration. Feedback from these discussions informed the development of governments' policy.

I note, however, than many of those who have been interested in this issue in New Zealand have for the most part supported a position of no change to the original and unacceptable text. That has limited the opportunities for meaningful and constructive engagement.

New Zealand cannot support the text of the declaration. It was adopted by a less than decisive vote by the members of the Human Rights Council recently in Geneva. We worked hard to get a text which all countries could support and implement. I am advised that the text which has been adopted is not consistent with international law, is potentially discriminatory and is not capable of being implemented by States because many of its provisions are unworkable.

This was not the outcome New Zealand wanted. We worked for a declaration which could enjoy consensus internationally. "

Yours sincerely,
Helen Clark
Prime Minister.

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