On behalf of the World Archaeological Congress (WAC), I am writing to you regarding the recent vote by the Third Committee of the General Assembly to postpone voting on the adoption of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Regrettably, this action seriously jeopardizes the future of the Declaration as well as undermines the U.N.’s commitment over the past 25 years in support of indigenous peoples’ rights. WAC would like to express its full support for the Declaration in its present form, as passed by the Human Rights Council in June 2006. We appeal to you to work toward consolidating the consensus that will allow the Declaration to be passed as soon as possible.

WAC is an international organization representing professional archaeologists and other heritage professionals with members in over 90 countries around the world, dedicated to the protection, research, and understanding of the world’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. The rights of indigenous peoples to participate as equal partners in these endeavors are of paramount importance.

It is time for the U.N. General Assembly to pass the Declaration, a document that Indigenous peoples have been negotiating for over 25 years to secure rights to their collective lands, resources, languages, religions, and cultures. Any further delay would be a serious injustice to those who have waited too long for recognition of basic human rights.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Claire Smith, Ph.D