The UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya [official profile] on Tuesday voiced concern [statement] over the situations of aboriginal people in Canada, concluding that the country is facing a "crisis." Information collected by Anaya reveals that despite the general wealth and prosperity of Canada, one in five indigenous people live in poor, often overcrowded and contaminated living conditions. Anaya also highlighted the disproportionately high rates of suicide amongst indigenous youth and violence against women. Anaya urged the Canadian government to take steps to fully respond to the urgent needs of aboriginal peoples. "Aboriginal peoples' concerns and well-being merit higher priority at all levels. ... Concerted measures, based on mutual understanding and real partnership with aboriginal peoples, through their own representative institutions, are vital to the long-term resolution of these issues." The information collected from indigenous peoples and government officials during his visit will be compiled into a report that Anaya hopes will help find solutions to ongoing challenges that indigenous peoples in the country face.
In August, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged [JURIST report] states to honor treaties with indigenous peoples, regardless of how long ago they were signed, as such treaties serve to protect human rights. In July the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples encouraged [JURIST report] the Panamanian government to strengthen the rights of its indigenous people. In December 2010 US President Barack Obama announced [JURIST report] that the US would support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People [text]. The declaration, adopted in 2007, is a non-binding treaty outlining the global human rights of approximately 370 million indigenous people and banning discrimination against them. The US was one of four member states originally opposed to adopting the treaty.