Review Blog

Oct 08 2009

Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples

cover image

Illustrated by Michel Streich. Allen and Unwin, 2009.
(Age 10 + years) Recommended. Two hands - one orange and one black - reach upwards on the otherwise plain white cover. It is a fitting symbol for a declaration of rights which was written in hope and has yet to be fully accepted and enacted around the world.
The declaration is available on the United Nations website but this edition puts it in an Australian context. Noted indigenous spokesperson Patrick Dodson has written a brief forward. The text concludes with an explanation of the challenges facing indigenous people, a history of the declaration's development and its relevance to the struggle for indigenous rights and survival in Australia. The author of this postscript is not identified but it was clearly written for an Australian audience, some of whom will be surprised to learn that in 2007, when the United Nations adopted the declaration, Australia was one of only four countries to vote against it. This year, our federal government endorsed the declaration.
Each of the 46 articles is accompanied by a striking, stylised drawing. Michel Streich's ability to sum up an issue in a sparse but telling illustration has been honed through years of contributing to newspapers and magazines.
Published in association with Amnesty International, this small, hardcover edition of the declaration is timely. It is listed on the publisher's website as a 'gift book' and would certainly make a satisfactory present or award. However, with its companion volume, The universal declaration of human rights, it may also remind readers that reconciliation and human rights concern us all.
Elizabeth Bor

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