Peter d'Errico: UN forum can't forget about Doctrine of Discovery

Sid Hill, the spiritual leader of the Onondaga Nation, addresses the fourteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples in May 2015. Photo from Facebook

Retired professor Peter d'Errico urges the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to take up the Doctrine of Christian Discovery at its meeting next month:
The 15th Session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will occur in May 2016. The published agenda opens with "Follow-up to the recommendations of the Permanent Forum: (a) Update on the implementation of the Permanent Forum’s recommendations." After a subsequent "International expert group meeting on the theme 'Indigenous languages: preservation and revitalization,'" the agenda turns to two "Studies prepared by members of the Permanent Forum." The list does not include the Study on the Doctrine of Christian Discovery.

In a few weeks, we will know whether the U.N. Permanent Forum has forgotten about the Doctrine of Christian Discovery altogether, or whether it will insist that the question of Indigenous Peoples land rights must include a revocation of the Doctrine and the papal bulls out of which the dominating patterns of the Doctrine emerged.

The United Nations, like its member states, operates a huge bureaucracy, with many cracks for things to fall through. The member states do not regard Indigenous Peoples as full participants in the organization. Moreover, some member states—particularly the United States, have taken steps to draw a line between the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the rights of all peoples. Indeed, the parallel effort to define a "new status" for Indigenous Peoples in the U.N. indicates as much an effort to bury them in a closet as to raise them to full membership in the general body.

Get the Story:
Peter d'Errico: Will the Permanent Forum Stand Up for Indigenous Peoples? (Indian Country Today 4/26)

Relevant Documents:
A Study on the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery on indigenous peoples, including mechanisms, processes and instruments of redress, with reference to the Declaration, and particularly to articles 26-28, 32 and 40 (United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues May 2014)

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