The visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, like that of any of the independent UN Special Rapporteurs is a unique tool of the global community, through the offices of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, to examine and shed light on issues related to their mandates.
While many citizens, and even governments, of developed countries sometimes have a visceral reaction against these types of information gathering missions in their own countries – as opposed to in the global south – it is in fact what makes the United Nations truly a universal organization. When Canada, or other highly developed nations, recognize the importance of showing how a great democracy acknowledges difficulties and welcomes constructive criticism (and praise), it shows other, perhaps delinquent regimes the scope of their unsupportable recalcitrance.
That Canada says “bring your most harsh light to bear on issues of concern to all peoples” where there may certainly be gaps or outright human rights breeches in our own commons shows just what a robust and sustainable democracy we are. That we then take the promising practices and lessons learned and put corrective measures in place is also something we should be proud of as citizens.
The price of membership in the United Nations is not that we are freely able to criticize others: the price of membership is that we fling open our own doors to showcase the fact that making us a better country is an ongoing investment that we must make.
Let us welcome James Anaya on his first official visit and trust that he highlights where our indigenous peoples flourish and lead, where they falter, and where we both lead and falter with them. Let us explore how we as a nation must and can build better.
For more information on the visit by Mr. Anaya please visit http://www.unsr.jamesanaya.org/
President & CEO, United Nations Association in Canada
Chair, World Federation of United Nations Associations
613-232-5751 ext. 223