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By Shiri Lata-Nand

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Sept. 27) –Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has appealed to the United Nation’s General Assembly to adopt the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the earliest opportunity.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the 59th session of the United Nation’s Assembly in New York at the weekend.

He said the Pacific island countries took great pride in their culture, customs and traditions.

"They give us our identity and oneness as indigenous communities and as Pacific island peoples," he said.

He said that while he acknowledged the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments in the promotion of human rights, he also recognized that they are primarily concerned with the rights of individuals.

"Indigenous Pacific island communities see a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as being vitally important for the international recognition and acceptance of our right to self-determination and, indeed, to our very survival as ethically and culturally distinct peoples."

He said Fiji was proud of its national diversity, which gave the country its distinctive character, and potential still unrealized.

"Although we have learned to coexist, without the racial violence and hatred common elsewhere, we are still a country divided, especially in politics," said Mr Qarase.

He said his Government has been engaged in a new quest for unity.

September 27, 2004



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