UNDRIP Implementation and use: It’s complicated

“We don’t have access to a court system to judge Canada at the UN, but we can embarrass Canada.” —Russ Diabo


Russell Diabo is an expert in legislation and strategies used by Canada to colonize First Nations

….A lot of grassroots Indigenous people wonder why Indigenous Nations don’t take Canada to the world court for breaches in dealings and wrong-doings against them, said Diabo. But the world court just doesn’t function as an option in that way.

Under the United Nations’ system, Canada could only be brought to the world court by another State party, he said. And there are no nations clamouring to bring Canada up on charges. Indigenous peoples themselves have little standing at the UN, because they are not member States.

Diabo also made an important distinction off the get-go. UNDRIP is a declaration not a covenant (or convention). A covenant of the UN is a legally-binding treaty, which once ratified requires the parties to adjust their domestic laws to comply with international obligations. A declaration is not legally binding. A declaration is meant to be inspirational in its intent. And, in fact, the Canadian government has described UNDRIP as aspirational. MORE