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  Sunday, December 15, 2019
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The UN General Assembly adopted a declaration Thursday on the right of indigenous peoples to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions
The UN General Assembly adopted a declaration Thursday on the right of indigenous peoples to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions. The declaration, finally approved after more than 20 years of consideration, calls on states to prevent or redress the forced migration of indigenous peoples, the seizure of their land and their forced integration into other cultures. It also gives native peoples control over their religious and cultural sites and the right to determine their own education systems. "This marks a historic moment when UN member states and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories and are resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all," a Secretary General spokeswoman, said. The declaration, which is not legally binding, was approved by a vote of 143-4, with 11 abstentions. The U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, which all have large indigenous populations, voted against the declaration, expressing concerns with some of the provisions on self-determination and rights to land and finances. Russia was among the abstainers. The declaration was met with an ovation by a large number of U.N. delegates. Russia's permanent representative to the UN said that the declaration's position was "unacceptable" for the Russian Federation. Russia is an extremely diverse multi-ethnic country, containing more than 100 separate nationalities and ethnic groups. Many of these ethnic groups already enjoy a certain amount of independence within autonomous or semi-autonomous republics, such as the Republics of Kalmykia and Tatarstan. According to the UN, there are more than 370 million native people in the world, living in more than 70 countries. Many of the smaller groups are currently in danger of dying out entirely.
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