Review: Illustrated by Michel Streich Allen & Unwin,130 pp;
The Australian, 19/9/09; No Internet Text
Few people are aware that on September 13, 2007, after 22 years of discussion and debate (a draft declaration began in 1985), the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was designed to establish clear guidelines for the treatment of indigenous people around the world. Only Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US voted against it. We reversed our vote this year. This small and elegant volume, illustrated sensitively by Michel Streich, a German artist who has lived in Australia since 2000, is one of those books that every self- respecting private library should have on its shelves. It offers a brief history of the declaration and the full text of the adopted legislation. It is fascinating to try to figure out why only four countries, all with substantial indigenous populations, voted against it. Was it Article 4, which talks about “the right to autonomy or self-government”? Or, perhaps, Article 7, which talks about “the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples”?