Helping Indian leaders initiate, win, and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been an important part of the Center’s work for more than 35 years. The Declaration is a monumental statement of the rights of Indian and Alaska Native tribes and other indigenous peoples. The right of self-determination, the right to exist as tribes and distinct peoples, the right of tribes to own their land and resources, the right to the enforcement of and respect for treaties, and protection and access to sacred sites are all proclaimed in the Declaration.
Today, we are working alongside more than 150 indigenous nations, organizations, and Native women’s coalitions to secure major reforms in the United Nations system. To advance the commitments won at the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, we’re working to establish an expert body to monitor countries’ compliance with the Declaration. Additionally, we want to ensure indigenous governments are always able to participate at the UN to directly assert and defend their rights.
Native nations deserve to take their places as sovereign governments in the world community. For too long, indigenous peoples around the world have been marginalized and subject to unjust and discriminatory legal systems and practices. The World Conference created a platform for implementing the Declaration and provided historic openings for Native nations to reassert their sovereignty and build international support and respect for indigenous governments.