Between 27 April and 4 May 2016, indigenous representatives and community leaders from tropical forest countries in Asia, Africa and South America will tour Brussels, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK to raise concerns with high-level policy and decision-makers about palm oil supply chains and the impact they are having on their lands, forests and communities. Continue reading Indigenous leaders from threatened tropical forests to launch tour in Europe; will challenge region’s deadly trade in ubiquitous palm oil
The book Doyle C. (ed.) Business and Human Rights: Indigenous Peoples’ Experiences with Access to Remedy. Case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America (Chiang Mai, Madrid, Copenhagen: AIPP, Almáciga, IWGIA, 2015) is the product of a collaboration of two ENIP member organizations – Almáciga and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) – with Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). All three organizations work closely with indigenous peoples in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The book addresses cases from each of these continents, examining the experiences of indigenous peoples with access to remedy when their human rights are affected by corporate activities. By drawing from these experiences it seeks to inform the actions of corporate and State actors in relation their business and human rights obligations to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to effective remedy.
The European Union has published a new report by indigenous rights expert Julian Burger of the University of Essex, entitled “Indigenous Peoples, Extractive Industries and Human Right”.
The report provides an overview of relevant policy fields and recommends that the European Parliament re-affirm its commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples as contained in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It calls for a specific recognition of free, prior and informed consent as an obligation for extractive industries engaging in activities that may impact indigenous peoples. It notes that serious and unacceptable human rights violations continue to be associated with the extractive industries in their dealings with indigenous peoples and considers that such abuses are likely to continue given the more invasive methods of extraction required to respond to global demand for commodities.
The paper welcomes the advances made by parts of the extractive industry sector to address the human rights, social and environmental issues arising from their contacts with indigenous peoples. It also considers that a goal at the European level should be a legally binding regime including sanctions where appropriate. This would ensure a level playing field among all extractive industry companies and prevent companies with serious commitments to indigenous peoples’ rights being put at a disadvantage with companies that do not have those commitments.
The paper also notes that the European Union (EU) in its trade and investment policies with outside partner countries may inadvertently set standards or impose restrictions that result in undermining the human rights of indigenous peoples. In this respect, further research on these contradictions would be helpful so that they can be brought to the attention of policy-makers with a view to making the necessary changes. The paper notes that the EU includes indigenous peoples as a cross-cutting part of its development, human rights and democracy programmes, and recommends that this area be strengthened and that further specific attention be given to challenges arising from the presence of extractive industries on indigenous peoples’ lands.
On Thursday the 11th of July in a side event at the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ENIP, together with CAOI and AIPP, launched a new study on Indigenous Peoples rights and the UN Guiding Principles. The study, authored by Johannes Rohr and José Aylwin and supported by the German Ministry for Technical Cooperation and Development, interprets the guiding principles as they pertain to indigenous peoples’ rights and offers real life examples of indigenous peoples’ attempts to assert their rights in the context of business operations in their territories.
The side event was facilitated by IWGIA‘s director Lola Garcia-Alix and panelists consisted of Pavel Sulyandziga (UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights); Vicky Tauli-Corpuz (UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples); Chief Wilton Littlechild (UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples); Luis Vittor (Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas, CAOI) and Cathal Doyle on behalf of ENIP.
The event focused on the work of the UN Working Group on the issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises and the activities at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in relation to promoting indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of business operations impacting on them. It also addressed the Human Rights Council resolution in relation to the elaboration of a binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises, which all panelists welcomed.
Chief Littlechild, who has participated as a panelist at the plenary and closing sessions of UN Forum, described the side event as a historic occasion and emphasized the importance of viewing the Guiding Principles through an indigenous lens and of ensuring further cooperation between EMRIP and the Working Group as well as ensuring the EMRIP guidance informs the work of the intergovernmental working group. This was particularly important given the extent of business impacts on indigenous peoples and the lack of effective remedies.
Pavel Sulyandziga, who has been instrumental in promoting indigenous rights within the Working Group, pointed out that indigenous peoples’ rights had been recognized as a priority area by the Working Group, which will participate in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September.
Vicky Tauli-Corpuz echoed the view of Chief Littlechild and thanked Pavel for his contribution to promoting indigenous rights within the UN Working Group and Forum. She noted the major challenge of ensuring respect for indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of business operations given the power imbalances between corporations and indigenous peoples and indicated her intention to focus on the indigenous peoples’ collective economic, social and cultural rights.
Luis Vittor pointed to the fact that the situation of indigenous peoples impacted by business operations is very similar across the world. He also noted the issues raised in 2009 Manila Declaration in relation to the extractive industry’s impact on indigenous peoples’ rights and highlighted the potential role of the UN Guiding Principles and a future binding instrument in realizing the rights recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Cathal Doyle addressed indigenous participation to date at the UN Forum (see Cathal Doyle: Indigenous Peoples Issues & Participation at the UN Forum on Business & Human Rights) and noted that the process to implement the Guiding Principles and the process to elaborate an international legally binding instrument should be regarded as mutually reinforcing. In this regard, the important thing for indigenous peoples is to ensure that both processes guarantee recognition and respect for their rights, as this was not a given in either process.
Interventions from the floor addressed the lack of access to justice and effective remedies available to indigenous peoples at the national level, with examples of specific case studies provided from India, Kenya and the Philippines. They pointed to the need for greater respect for indigenous customary institutions and legal systems, effective implementation of national laws in relation to business in a manner consistent with the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights and genuine respect of the requirement for free prior and informed consent in accordance with the right to self-determination.
This paper provides an overview of indigenous peoples’ participation at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. It addresses progress to date in relation to indigenous peoples’ issues at the first two sessions of the Forum and the potential role which it can play in the future in promoting respect for indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of corporate activities, in particular extractive industry activities, in their territories.
Author: Cathal Doyle, University of Middlesex, June 2014