Protecting the rights of indigenous people has always been a thorny issue for the international community. Indigenous peoples and their interests are represented in the United Nations primarily through the Expert mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People. Last year the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a non-binding declaration outlining the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to identity, culture, language, employment, health, education and other issues. Most countries – 143 of them – voted for the declaration, while 11 nations abstained and 34 nations didn’t vote at all. Four countries – the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia – voted against the declaration. Now, online activists are trying to get the leaders of the four industrialized countries to change their votes.
Indigenous rights activists worldwide have form a Facebook group to agitate President-elect Barack Obama to adopt the declaration. Users can also read articles and view images and videos relating to Native issues. Group members are currently under discussions to start a second Facebook group to petition Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.