After decades of work, Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) was thrilled when, in June 2021, Canada passed an act to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). CFSC, together with Indigenous partners and other human rights groups, was deeply involved in this success.
UNDRIP affirms Indigenous peoples’ inherent right to self-determination, including the right of Indigenous peoples to make their own decisions about how their lands will be used and protected and how their cultures and traditions will be maintained. Canada’s implementation act affirms that UNDRIP already has legal effect. However, instead of leaving interpretation to Canada’s courts, the act requires the federal government to take active measures, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to reform its laws to be consistent with the provisions of the declaration.
The act requires that a National Action Plan to implement UNDRIP through law, policy, and programs be developed and adopted. The implementation measures required must all be taken “in consultation and cooperation” with Indigenous peoples. The act also requires regular public reporting on the progress, as well as accountability measures developed in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
At recent UN meetings in Geneva it was discovered that several countries are studying this act and may use it as a model for promoting Indigenous peoples’ human rights.