4 May 2010

'Sleight of hand' over UN declaration castigated

8:13 pm on 4 May 2010

Maori lawyer Moana Jackson says that what he calls New Zealand's sleight of hand over the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been noticed by indigenous people overseas.

Sheryl Lightfoot, an influential Native American academic, has complained that New Zealand's use of the terms "aspirational" and "non-binding" represents a lack of commitment, and the president of British Columbia's union of Indian chiefs, Stewart Phillip, says limited support of the declaration threatens its integrity.

Mr Jackson told Waatea News that the Prime Minister's claim that the declaration would have no effect on what New Zealand does has upset people who fought for it for more than 20 years.

"It ignores the fact that it's an international human rights document," Mr Jackson says, "[and] that human rights are a minimum set of standards that states are meant to aspire to."