Canada does not deserve seat at UN Security Council: Opinion

UN Security Council

A gate on the Morice River Forest Service Rd is dismantled during RCMP operations. Photo: Unist’ot’en Village/Twitter.

Pam Palmater
Special to APTN NewsReconciliation is dead. It died when the RCMP invaded Wet’suwet’en territory with heavy machinery, helicopters, weapons and police dogs to forcibly remove Wet’suwet’en peoples and supporters from their homes on their own lands.

In quite literal terms, the RCMP destroyed the “reconciliation” sign posted on the access point to the territory, to make way for pipeline workers to force a pipeline on Wet’suwet’en Yintah (lands) without consent from hereditary chiefs.

While they were at it, Coastal Gaslink pipeline workers removed the red dresses memorializing the thousands of Indigenous women and girls who have been abused, exploited, disappeared and murdered – some at the hands of those who work in man camps.

In reaction to this violation of Indigenous land rights and the aggressive invasion of Wet’suwet’en lands by the RCMP, grassroots Indigenous peoples and Canadian allies have engaged in protests, rallies, marches and blockades all over Turtle Island.

UN Security Council

300 people blocked the intersection at Cambie and Hastings in Vancouver in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. Photo: Simon Charland/APTN

Meanwhile, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not even in Canada. He is travelling the world campaigning for a seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

Canada is a state perpetrator of genocide against Indigenous women and girls. The national inquiry found that all levels of government – federal, provincial, territorial and municipal – have engaged in historic and ongoing genocide; a form of gendered colonization which targets Indigenous women and girls for violence and denies them basic human rights protections. This genocide includes the theft of Indigenous lands and resources and the criminalization of Indigenous peoples who peacefully defend their lands and peoples from the violence, especially from the extractive industry.

The UN Security Council should not welcome a state perpetrator of genocide that has failed to accept responsibility for the genocide and failed to act urgently to end it. Similarly, member states of the UN should recall that Canada was one of only four states that fought against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which protects the rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, control over their traditional lands and resources and protections from forced removal from their lands by the state. While Canada has reversed its position on UNDRIP and claims to now support it unconditionally, it has failed to implement it into domestic law (with the exception of the Province of British Columbia).

The UN Security Council’s mandate is to maintain international peace and security. They are responsible to identify threats to peace or acts of aggression and have the authority to impose sanctions or authorize intervention. The Council has 15 members, five are permanent (China, Russia, France, United Kingdom and the United States) and ten are non-permanent and replaced on a rotating basis. Canada is vying for one of five seats that will be elected in June alongside other countries like Norway and Ireland. Canada lost its seat under the former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. To this end, Trudeau is campaigning on the African continent and will soon be headed to the Caribbean and eventually Germany to make his case.

UN Security Council

A truck sits by the tracks near the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Photo courtesy: Annette Francis

Yet, it is hard to contemplate how the member states of the UN could vote for Canada given its record of human rights abuses and genocide of Indigenous peoples. Keep in mind that both the UN and the Organization of American States (OAS) have shared their grave concerns about the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls finding of ongoing genocide in Canada. The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) has also asked Canada to urgently withdraw the RCMP and weapons from Wet’suwet’en territory and to halt any major development projects on Indigenous territories unless they have consent.

The UN member states should also consider that Canada has continuously failed to act on the numerous recommendations from various UN human rights treaty bodies pleading with Canada to end its grave human rights violations against Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women. Whether it is the UNCERD, UN Human Rights Council, UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Canada consistently fails to remedy these serious human rights breaches.

While there will be many other political considerations that go into each UN member state’s decision as to whether to support Canada’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, Canada’s record of ongoing genocide and human rights abuses against Indigenous peoples, and its recent armed invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory should give them pause. Canada has long pointed fingers around the world, criticizing human rights breaches, yet it has failed to address its own – and it’s killing our people.

UN Security Council

Red dresses hang at the 27 km marker along the Morice Forest Service Rd. Photo: Lee Wilson/APTN

Canada does not deserve a seat at the UN Security Council unless and until they address peace and security in their own country. Indigenous women and girls continue to disappear and be murdered, Indigenous peoples are grossly overincarcerated, and our children are stolen into the foster care system at rates higher than during residential schools.

Our lands and waters are being destroyed by massive development and extractive projects without regard for the cost to the planet or human lives. Canada’s continued acts of genocide and ecocide will eventually impact other states as climate change cannot be contained within artificial political borders. The planet is in crisis and the UN Security Council will have to face ever growing threats to peace and security worldwide. The last thing they need is to be guided by states that don’t address their own human rights, peace and security issues.

Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick. She has been a practicing lawyer for 20 years and currently holds the position of Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. SOURCE

While global leaders messed around, Greta Thunberg and 15 kids got down to business

Thunberg at the UN climate action summit
Thunberg at the UN climate action summit

The United Nations’ secretary-general António Guterres wanted international leaders to bring plans, not speeches to the Climate Action Summit being held in New York today. Greta Thunberg and 15 other young people don’t seem to have much faith in these plans. On Monday, hours after Thunberg addressed assembled leaders at the summit’s opening ceremony, the group of activists announced they were suing five of the biggest carbon polluters in the world—Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey—for violating their rights as children by failing to adequately reduce emissions.

“You are failing us,” Thunberg said, gazing at the crowd with fury. “We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.” Together with 15 international young people, each of whom have been affected by climate change, she filed a lawsuit arguing the carbon-polluting countries are violating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states children have the right to life, health, and peace. The United States is the only country not to have ratified this convention, and so is not included in the lawsuit, despite its high levels of pollution.

As the children filed a lawsuit, global leaders dutifully presented their plans to address the climate crisis. Though most acknowledged the need for specific action over platitudes—”We believe an ounce of practice is worth more than a ton of preaching,” said India’s prime minister Narendra Modi—their plans varied in substance. Modi, for example, said India plans to increase its renewable energy capacity to 450 gigawatts. But he did not mention coal, India’s largest energy source, or attempts to reduce national emissions.

There were a few specific new plans from those mentioned in the lawsuit: Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, said the country plans to phase out coal by 2038 (a goal first announced earlier this year) and pledged Germany would achieve net zero emissions by 2050. And France’s president Emmanuel Macron called on the European Union to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% before 2030, up from its current commitment of 40%.

But, collectively, the proposed plans aren’t strong enough. “The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control,” said Thunberg. Just ask her partners in the lawsuit.

Ranton Anjain, 17, from Ebeye, the Marshall Island, faces the threat of his country being swallowed by rising sea levels, and diseases from climate change. The heat has created outbreaks of dengue, a mosquito-borne viral disease, which were severe enough to create a state of emergency in the summers of 2018 and 2019. Ayakha Melithafa, 17, who lives on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, has reckoned with her city running out of water. And Deborah Adegbile, a 12-year-old from Lagos, Nigeria, now lives with an increasingly long rainy season, encountering frequent flooding that forces her parents to carry her to school. “A 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us,” says Thunberg, “we who have to live with the consequences.” SOURCE

‘The Wet’suwet’en Need to Lead This. That’s All There Is to It’

NDP MP Romeo Saganash is behind a private member’s bill that aims to clarify the federal government’s role in ensuring Indigenous human rights. The bill has already made it through the House of Commons. If it passes a second reading in the Senate, Bill C-262 will head to a committee, before a final vote in the Senate would make it law. The push is on now because there’s a short window to get the law passed before the fall federal election. Demand action!

Today, Chief Na’Moks briefs the UN on Canada’s Indigenous rights progress. He’s well prepared.

ChiefNaMoksGidumtenCheckpoint.jpg
Chief Na’Moks at the Gidumt’en checkpoint, December 2018. Photo by Michael Toledano.

Three years ago, Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Na’Moks stood in full regalia before the United Nations in New York City. He propped his cellphone in front of him, took a deep breath and began to speak.

“They thought I was reading a speech. I was looking at a picture of that mountain,” he says, gesturing toward Hudson Bay Mountain, the glaciated peak that presides over Wet’suwet’en territory in northwest British Columbia. “That’s all I had in front of me. You’ve got to speak from the heart.”

It was May 2016, the day after Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that Canada would remove its objector status to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which had been accepted nearly a decade earlier by the UN General Assembly.

Na’Moks, whose English name is John Ridsdale, was there to make a promise to the UN: That he would return one year later to provide a full report on Canada’s progress implementing the declaration.

Today, Na’Moks addresses the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, his second update to the UN since that first visit.

Again, he’ll prop his phone before him, but this time he’ll be reading from notes. It’s important he stick to the talking points — in particular, those addressing Article 10 of UNDRIP, the section that deals with forcible removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands.

“Nothing’s really changed from the time that they accepted it,” he says about Canada’s promise to implement UNDRIP. “They’ve really not done anything.”

RCMP-Pipeline-Camp.jpg
Heavily armed RCMP officers arrived Monday to shut down Indigenous checkpoints blocking a natural gas pipeline. Photo by Michael Toledano.

Na’Moks, the highest-ranking chief of the Tsayu clan, stood and watched with chiefs of three other Wet’suwet’en clans on Jan. 7 as RCMP carrying automatic weapons forcefully removed a checkpoint put in place by the Gidumt’en clan to prevent Coastal GasLink pipeline workers from accessing the territory. MORE

RELATED:

Obstructing UNDRIP bill amounts to oppression and racism against Indigenous peoples, says Cree senator
Grand Chief Edward John and Sheryl Lightfoot: UNDRIP is cause for celebration, not alarm