President Obama finally decided to back the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples this weekend. It’s hard to believe that a nation that prides itself on its freedom, human rights and morality — to the point of spreading the word at the end of a gun in far-off lands — was the last nation on earth to endorse the declaration. Our hypocrisy is well-known in the world community. Too bad roughly half of the people of this country are too blinded by their nationalism to see that truth. Perhaps this is a first step down another path. Let us hope so. The story, from Fox News:

President Barack Obama’s decision to reverse US policy and back a UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples has touched off a debate on whether the move could boost American Indian legal claims over the ills they suffered dating back to the colonial period, FOXNews.com reported Saturday.

The president announced his decision at the White House Tribal Nations Conference last week, making the United States the last nation to endorse the statement — the Bush administration had opposed it since it was adopted in 2007. American Indian advocacy groups cheered the move, finalized after a months-long administration review.

But John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, said the “abstract” document — which in several sections discusses the “right to redress” — may be used to fuel new legal claims.

“It’s a kind of feel-good document that has so many unclear phrases in it that nobody’s really sure what it means when you agree to it,” Bolton said. “It’s wrong and potentially dangerous to sign onto a document that you don’t fully understand the implications of.”

The non-binding document states that indigenous people should not be discriminated against, should be able to sustain their own political and social systems, and have rights to the “lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned” or used.

Photo credit: Carl Venne, Crow Tribal Chairman, and Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Photo by Irene L. Hause originally posted on Wikimedia Commons