Canada: Implementation of UNDRIP is now the law | Update

LRWC calls upon all Canadian authorities to ensure prompt action to implement Canada’s Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [UNDRIP]. The Act is now the law in Canada. The Act received Royal Assent on 21 June 2021 after being passed by the Senate on 16 June on a vote of 61-10, with nine senators abstaining.

The Act stipulates that Canada’s federal government “must, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples and with other federal ministers, take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration” and “prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.”

The UNDRIP law does not create Indigenous rights. It requires the federal government to implement the international legal standards in the UNDRIP that it has officially endorsed without qualification.

Canada must begin to keep its promises and uphold international obligations 

LRWC has long been concerned about Canada’s persistent failure to keep its promises regarding Indigenous Peoples and its failure to uphold the internationally protected rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada has failed to implement numerous recommendations of UN bodies, including recommendations of the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Canada has also so far failed to implement most of the 2015 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada, and LRWC has called on Canada for a prompt, thorough, impartial and fully independent investigation of all undocumented deaths of Indigenous persons found in unmarked graves in Canada. Canada has also failed to provide a concrete national action plan to implement the 2019 Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG Inquiry).

The UN Declaration, genocide and crimes against humanity 

The UN Declaration includes a provision that “Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.” Both the TRC and the MMIW Inquiry have found that Canada committed genocide against Indigenous Peoples. The TRC made a finding of “cultural genocide.” The MMIWG Inquiry made a finding that Canada’s persistent failure to prevent and punish murders and disappearances of missing Indigenous women and girls constitutes State violation of the UN Genocide Convention. The International Criminal Court, which investigates and prosecutes individuals for genocide and other crimes against humanity, is not set up to address State violations of these international crimes.

Also see LRWC’s statement on Canada’s international legal obligation to ensure a prompt, thorough, impartial and completely independent investigation into each and every potentially unlawful death, disappearance or any other serious crime.