Canada does not deserve seat at UN Security Council: Opinion

Special to APTN News

Reconciliation 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.

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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.

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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.

Pam 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.

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7 thoughts on “Canada does not deserve seat at UN Security Council: Opinion

  1. We need to start a petition, and to lobby all the Ambassadors to the UN of all the countries that will vote on Canada’s admission to the Security Council.

    The fact that Canada is likely to be named in a UN action in support of the Wet’suwet’en alone should disqualify Canada.

  2. “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.”

    Can i see more info on that? A source? Having trouble getting anything clear through Google…

  3. If there aren’t already enough foreign policy reasons, this should drive the last nail into the coffin of Canada’s UN Security Council bid. That being said, Canada would be in good company with the permanent members of the council such as the colonialist oligarchy south of the border.

  4. Pamela, We do not believe it is fair for one first nation to hold up progress for other first nations.
    Perhaps coming from a small province, you only have a few indigenous lands. Here in BC and Alberta there are many who want to move forward and not be dependant on anyone but themselves for their money. Take Kitimaat as a progressive example.
    Perhaps it would be better to see why Hereditory chiefs feel it necessary to claim all crown lands as there own. Can anyone who has a title in their heritage just decide to take over the role of chief or perhaps the Queen or president and how does that make them qualified to talk for others. Their community is divided as it is. Ps until recently I could have just rode into Ireland and claimed heritage from the 1800s. But would I do that. No. Maureen Macdonald
    Ps get out of the news and put your physical self into BC.

  5. A history of colonialism and its effects are largely responsible for the many dysfunctional indigenous families we see today that lead to the higher rates of incarceration, poverty and other social ills prevalent within the native community rather than the ongoing racism the author suggets. The people of Canada have a long way to go undoubtedly in righting a lot of wrongs but the majority of those in power throughout the country and those who voted for them are genuinely trying to make reconciliation happen however slowly, ineffective or awkward.

    But a culture of grievance coupled with opposition and defiance hardly serves anyone other than a few who make their living promoting it. The fact is the more integrated natives are within the 21st century global community socially, economically and politically the better off they will ultimately be and more inward reflection on this is necessary.

    Canada is changing demographically and the 100s of thousands of immigrants each year from the third world care little about historical or current native issues and generally don’t self identify as the descendants of colonisers so have little interest in reconciliation beyond appearing politically correct.

    While hyperbole such as this article leverage ‘white guilt” to a degree, the author lives in a fantasyland if she believes the despots and dictators that head the majority of world governments take her opinion seriously when the reality is they only promote her view when it serves their own purposes in deflecting criticism of the treatment of their own people such as China or Iran have done.

    The UN needs more Canada not less.

  6. I tweeted the other day that CANADA does not. And Norway Does and that I would write the UN. Thank you God, for Writing it for me <3

  7. Corporate Industry and Oil & Gas companies They will use white man laws that they have developed to push the pipeline through.. Then later fight the Wet’suwet’en peoples in court and they will loose then the Wet’suwet’en peoples will be compensated and Paid off is the plan and the pipeline will still stay in the ground where it should be shut down and distracted out of the ground as it was put there and that’s not going to happen.The People are fighting for short term jobs. Pipeline will be put in the ground job finished and no more jobs. The people will only get a year or 2 maybe of work ??. The environment will suffer and will be impacted ,There are many pipelines in western Canada but not allot of jobs now for them. They put in unsafe pipelines that they have been using for years. there is no proper monitoring systems put in place . there are no controls in place to prevent leaks or warnings that does devastating damages to the environment.. Absolutely Nothing !! No environmental protection. Then when it do leak its to late.Then will they try to contain some of it. Its already to late environmental disaster damage done. Oil and gas companies build pipelines with much risks and they know it. They don’t want to put in the proper precautions,cameras,ex rays devices,monitoring device for gas leaks, crack or wearing and safe procedures in place or even build it right would cost them money. They don’t care of no one just themselves. $$$$ JUST BUILD A PIPELINE

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