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About the International Relationships Priority

First Nations are actively advocating their priorities, Treaty rights and inherent rights at the international level through the United Nations.  See some examples below.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

The UNDRIP is a powerful international instrument which creates the minimum standards and principles for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous Peoples.

The key UNDRIP article affirms:  “Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” (Article 3)

Areas addressed in the UNDRIP include, but not limited to, Treaties, self determination, free prior and informed consent, resources, economic development and trade, education, language, health, border crossing, redress and dispute resolution, and special provisions for women, youth and elders.

The UNDRIP became universally applicable when it was adopted by the United Nations‘ General Assembly in September 2007.  Despite this, Canada still only views it as an “aspirational” document and endorsed it in 2010 with qualifications.

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)

The North American Indigenous Peoples' Caucus (NAIPC) holds preparatory meetings for the Sessions of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The 12th session in 2013 is yet to be scheduled.

This NAIPC three-day in depth working session is designed by and for Indigenous leadership, community members, elders, youth, and organizations.  The purpose is to bring together First Nations, Native American Peoples and Tribal Nations (from the US and Canada) in advance of the UNPFII to discuss critical issues, explore common ground, and establish a collective platform of action for our strategic work at the United Nations. 

The NAIPC discussion focused on preparing for and addressing the UNPFII Agenda (Session 11) took place May 7-18, 2012 at UN Headquarters in New York, and included:

  • The Doctrine of Discovery
  • Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  •  Dialogue with the North American Region Representative of UNPFII
  • International Expert Group Meeting on Combating Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls
  • 2014 United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
  •  Environment- RIO+20 Conference-June 2012

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

The Chiefs of Ontario, and over 20 Indigenous nations and organizations, held Canada accountable during the country’s periodic review February 22-23, 2012, by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

CERD is an independent body of experts that monitors countries party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  CERD monitors the implementation of the Convention by reviewing periodic reports submitted by states. Alternate, or shadow, reports by First Nations and non-governmental organizations are welcomed to supplement government-generated reports.

CERD is the key UN body which protects against racism, human rights violations, and affirms the observation of the minimum standards within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

Read the Chiefs of Ontario’s Alternate Report to CERD HERE

Read all other NGO Alternate Reports, Canada’s report, and CERD’s concluding observations:

Video Archives of Canada’s review can be found:

United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCSC) organized six First Nations youth ambassadors to speak with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on February 6, 2012.  They made a special request for the UN to review the inequities faced by First Nations youth in education, health, and child welfare. 

More information can be found at the FNCFCSC website HERE

Doctrine of Discovery & Terra Nullius

The Doctrine of Discovery is an international legal principle formally established through a series of papal bulls issued by the Vatican in the 15th century. The Doctrine of Discovery was the primary tool used by colonizing European powers to assume control over Indigenous Peoples and their lands without the consent of those Peoples. The Doctrine of Discovery is an ethnocentric doctrine that assumes the superiority of European laws, customs, religion and civilization over the established laws, customs, culture and civilization of the Indigenous Peoples, and continues to impact the relationship between the colonizers and the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island today.