What rights protect indigenous peoples?
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 is an up to date statement with international force that affirms that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different.
It affirms that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of mankind.
Many laws relating to indigenous peoples are a legacy of colonization.
One of the many ways you can see that indigenous peoples have suffered differently than other peoples around the world is that the 4 countries which did not sign the legislation initially were the ones with a strong colonial backdrop in their heritage, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. However, these four nations have since joined the agreement.
Many legal protections are written in international law and then transferred into national legislation.
The twentieth century was very different to the century before it in that there was greater acknowledgement of the sufferings of indigenous peoples under colonization, and a strong desire to see their languages, cultures and ways of life rehabilitated and supported.
In New Zealand, Māori have the right to be recognized as the tangata whenua, the first inhabitants of Aotearoa New Zealand, under the Treaty of Waitangi 1840.
In recent history, Māori have had their right to the foreshore and seabed quashed, but have witnessed a revival of their language, te reo, and cultural, sporting and performing arts activity.
Furthermore, because Māori did not adopt an economic system that came from Europe, their socioeconomic rights depend on customary rights to land. These are the focus of the Waitangi Tribunal, with many iwi from around the country bringing claims.
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