UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay
Wednesday, 25 May 2011, 5:15 pm
Press Release: United Nations Human Rights Commissioner
I welcome the advances the Government has made in addressing some of the disadvantages faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In particular, I welcome the National Apology and Australia’s formal recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, along with the significant investment being made to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education. However, I believe these efforts are being undermined by policies that fail to recognise the right to self-determination for indigenous people, which is a key element of the UN Declaration.
In my discussions with Aboriginal people, I could sense the deep hurt and pain that they have suffered because of government policies that are imposed on them. I also saw Aboriginal people making great efforts to improve their communities, but noted that their efforts are often stifled by inappropriate and inflexible policies that fail to empower the most effective, local solutions.
I would urge a fundamental rethink of the measures being taken under the Northern Territory Emergency Response. There should be a major effort to ensure not just consultation with the communities concerned in any future measures, but also their consent and active participation. Such a course of action would be in line with the UN Declaration.