Calls, again, for binding instrument on corporate human rights abusesPublished by MAC on 2013-12-20
Source: Statements (2013-12-04)
The following are some critical articles on the issues of 'voluntary' mechanisms on human rights, that coincided with the UN Forum on Business & Human Rights and the WTO meeting in Bali happening at the same time.
The human rights issues around mining were frequently raised at that meeting, noting references below to the situation at Barrick Gold's Porgera mine and the Anvil case in DRC.
More than 100 groups publicly call on UN to develop new binding instrument to address corporate human rights abuses
ESCR-Net press release
4 December 2013
Geneva - Over one hundred civil society organizations and social movements have publicly joined the growing call for States to begin taking steps towards establishing a binding international treaty to deal with corporate human rights abuses. The statement coincides with the beginning of the second annual UN Forum on Business & Human Rights in Geneva.
The Joint Statement originated as an initiative of participants who attended the International Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Network (ESCR-Net) Peoples' Forum on Human Rights & Business, celebrated in Bangkok during November 5-7, 2013.
Those who've signed the statement affirm "the applicability of human rights obligations to the operations of transnational corporations" and have called on States to "monitor and regulate the operations of business enterprises under their jurisdiction, including when acting outside their national territory". The obligation on States to do this is commonly referred to as States' extra-territorial obligations, or 'ETOs', as outlined in part by the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
"I strongly believe that we need a binding international regulation for businesses because of the growing human rights abuses all over the world" said Mr. Legborsi Saro, president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People of Nigeria and board member of ESCR-Net.
For Chris Grove, director of ESCR-Net, "binding regulation is an important step in establishing the primary obligation to respect human rights before any other consideration of private gain or economic growth". "For these rights to be meaningful, they must be accompanied by effective remedies for individuals and groups who experience violations", he indicated.
This wide-ranging call for a binding treaty is distinct from other non-binding approaches currently being promoted at the international level. In particular, the call includes a requirement that States establish an "accountability mechanism", something detractors have readily pointed out is missing from the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Nevertheless, despite such differences in approach a treaty itself could be a natural accompaniment to the efforts underway to advance these Guiding Principles, rather than a distraction from the efforts to advance their implementation.
Signatories to this statement are a broad mix of civil society groups including both social movements as well as small and large NGOs from all regions of the world. These broad number of signatories call for action from the Human Rights Council in the form of the establishment of "an open ended working group tasked with a drafting mandate".
This call on the Human Rights Council to act will focus the attention of those in Geneva on the future of the UN's approach to corporate accountability, especially in light of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights reaching the end of their first mandate in mid-2014.
For more information and live update on UN Forum on Business & Human Rights in Geneva, reach Genevieve Paul (ESCR-Net member and representative of FIDH) at +33-64-805-9119.
The International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) is a collaborative initiative of groups and individuals from around the world working to secure economic and social justice through human rights. ESCR-Net seeks to strengthen the field of all human rights, with a special focus on economic, social and cultural rights, and further develop the tools for achieving their promotion, protection and fulfillment. Through ESCR-Net, groups and individuals can exchange information, develop a collective voice, amplify their actions, develop new tools and strategies. By facilitating joint actions, enhancing communications and building solidarity across regions, the network seeks to build a global movement to make human rights and social justice a reality for all.
International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
ESCR-Net / Red-DESC / Réseau-DESC
Tel: +1 212.681.1236
Demands increase for international mechanisms to punish transnational corporations' crimes
International Peoples Treaty: "Defending peoples' rights against corporate power"
3 December 2013
Geneva (Switzerland), Bali (Indonesia) -- Social movements, networks and organizations from the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity - who protested today in Bali and in Geneva against the corporate capture of the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade negotiations and the United Nations (UN) Human Rights system - are demanding binding regulations to punish corporate crimes.
"Today in Bali, as governments gather for the WTO Ministerial negotiations, hundreds of activists from around the world are taking to the streets to denounce the free trade system that has facilitated corporate profit while undermining laws that protect environmental and human rights from corporate abuse," said Lyda Fernanda from the Transnational Institute. She continued saying that "people have shown that there are real alternatives, and have expressed the need for binding regulations instead of more destructive trade deals and corporate collusion with governments and institutions."
As well as dominating trade negotiations, corporations have also succeeded in capturing the UN Business and Human Rights Forum which takes place from 2 to 4 December in Geneva. Several Transnational Corporations (TNCs) such as Vale, Rio Tinto, Barrick Gold Corporation and others are not only actively participating, but are working with the UN to maintain voluntary guidelines based on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), that are not designed to stop or punish human rights violations by TNCs. "These are non-binding norms, that have no enforcement mechanisms and are based on TNCs own reporting of their supposedly responsible performance, while corporate crimes and human rights abuses are systematic, as shown in the Rana Plaza (Bangladesh) and Marikana (South Africa) tragedies" said Juan Hernandez from Hegoa Institute, Basque Country, as he joined the demonstration in front of the Palais des Nations in Geneva. "CSR and non-binding codes have allowed corporations to operate with impunity. For decades, TNCs lobby on the institutions of the Human Rights system continuously dismantled several initiatives to set a binding Treaty and International Court to judge corporate crimes. The abuses that victims are suffering across the globe reaffirm the urgency of such a Treaty and Court" added Professor Hernandez.
To respond to the growing corporate capture of international institutions, social movements, networks and organizations from the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, are building an International Peoples' Treaty that "will affirm an alternative vision from the people on law and justice" and in which "the people are the protagonists, political actors and originators of the laws and norms of a political, economic and legal system that will end the current framework of extraordinary privileges and impunity enjoyed by transnational corporations."
The process for building this Peoples Treaty includes dialogues with several governments who are petitioning to the UN Human Rights Council to institute binding regulations on TNCs. Richard Girard from the Polaris Institute in Canada affirmed that "we will continue mobilizing until these binding norms are in place and until communities and people who have endured corporate crimes are compensated".
For more information, please contact:
Lyda Fernanda (Spanish and English) - lydafernanda[at]tni.org / +62 082236635857
Diana Aguiar (English, Spanish and Portuguese) - dianaguiar[at]gmail.com / +41 787985059
- International Peoples Treaty - "Defending Peoples' Rights From Corporate Power"
Comments at the closing plenary of the 2nd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, 4 December 2013
Priorities for 2014:Comments at the closing plenary of the 2nd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights
- Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary General, Altsean-Burma Coordinator
Mr Chair, Excellencies,distinguished members of the Working Group, my esteemed fellow panelists, dear friends.
At the opening session last year, I introduced to you men, women and children who had been killed AFTER the adoption of the Guiding Principles because they spoke up against human rights violations by companies. A year later, most of the victims' families are still denied justice. Even more defenders have been killed: Last Sunday, in Brazil, Ambrosio Vihalva, a Guarani-Kaiowa land activist opposing large-scale agribusiness was stabbed to death.
Halting and preventing impunity perpetrated and perpetuated through the complicity of state and business, should be our top priority.
Testimonies from affected communities and victims at this Forum clearly tell us that there is a huge reality gap between the stated commitments of states and corporations, and actual action. It could be because of those who don't know any better, or those who do know better but refuse to act better. In any case, we must work urgently to halt and prevent further violations.
Land and environmental defenders throughout the world continue to be high on the hit-list of violators. Even Myanmar (or Burma) is detaining land and environmental defenders at the same time that they are releasing political prisoners. Instead of labeling them as criminals, "enemies ofdevelopment" or even terrorists, they must be respected as relevant stakeholders in the meaningful consultation emphasized by Guiding Principle 18.
On the subject of meaningful consultation, too often women, including indigenous women, continue to be excluded or ignored by companies. Come on folks! This is the 21st century!
Last month, the Peoples Forum on Human Rights and Business met in Bangkok, and many of the priorities reflect key concerns raised at this Forum.
This includes how non-judicial remedies have sometimes been perverted into anti-justice measures. UNSC Resolution 1325 declares rape in war to be a non-amnestiable crime; however in business this is different. In the case of a Canadian gold mine in Papua New Guinea where local women were subjected to gang rape by employees for many years,victims were given chickens for a livelihood program, not justice.
Loretta Rosales representing national human rights institutions noted that both judicial and non-judicial measures must be part of the same continuum to ensure access tojustice for victims. She also noted that the main problem with the Guiding Principles is that they are non-binding.
Yesterday Joseph Stiglitz also emphasized that regulation is needed to address the cross-border impacts of business activities.
The time is right to work towards a binding framework to ensure state and corporate accountability. Companies doing the right thing should be welcoming this; because it will help their less-committed peers join them and create a level playing field. This will also allow companies to stick to their human rights principles when pressured by states to do otherwise.
States including those few engaged in National Action Plans should welcome a binding framework because it will ensure that their companies' interests will not be harmed for respecting human rights.
This is a worthy extension of John Ruggie's legacy - he did note that the Guiding Principles area first step; a binding framework will address gaps in the principles, and ensure a victim-oriented approach in implementation.
For some of us, a binding framework has the potential to be this generation's Geneva Convention. I say this because on the ground, the impacts of grievous human rights violations on people and the environment are akin to that of war. The preventive value of such a binding framework, especially in the context of violations amounting to the serious international crimes mentioned just now by Mary Robinson, cannot be underestimated.
A common refrain that we hear is that change "takes time". Well, many victims have been waiting for decades for remedy. It didn't take much time for harmful business projects to devastate entire communities and ecosystems. The global community cannot afford to wait especially as we head toward the post-2015 development period.
One final priority: We need to expand and strengthen the mandate of the Working Group. We need to ensure that the Working Group is given the teeth and testicles, figuratively speaking of course, to get the job done!
Thank you for giving civil society the final word.
The Plenary panel was held in Room XX was chaired by Forum Chairperson Makarim Wibosono. Speakers were Mary Robinson (Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice), Aron Cramer(Business for Social Responsibility), Aisha Abdullahi (African Union Commission), William Echikson (Google Corporation), Debbie Stothard (International Federation for Human Rights and Altsean-Burma).
UN Forum on Business and Human Rights
According to the researcher of Oxford University, the debate will be void if it fails to yield space for the affected communities
2 December 2013
Patricia Feeney, the executive director of the UK-based NGO Rights and Accountability in Development and professor of Oxford University, warns that the second Forum on Business and Human Rights of the UN is under a serious risk of being more of the same, frustrating the expectations of organisations that have not turned away from the mission of building an international forum of dialogue on the subject. Mrs. Feeney compares the command and control exercised by the WG and its Secretariat over the event's agenda to that of the North Korean Supreme Assembly. The event will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 2-4th December 2013.
Mrs. Feeney's severe judgement is based on her extensive experience. She was one of the founders of the network OECD Watch, which monitors the implementation of the multilateral organisation's "Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises": "Victims were erased from the picture and it is frustrating to see that the UN High Commisariat is complicit with the situation", declared Mrs. Feeney in an interview to Conectas. To Mrs. Feeney, the creation of accountability and grievance mechanisms should always be present in the debate. "NGOs should expose the limitations of pragmatism and uphold a genuine human rights approach". Read the full interview:
1. Next week the Second UN Forum on Business and Human Rights is going to start. What was your evaluation of the first version?
The First Forum was a rather surreal experience. According to the OHCHR's website it was ‘the largest global gathering on business and human rights to date.' What was virtually absent from the debates was a focus on human rights. The event was dominated by industry voices or their surrogates, the ever-proliferating business consultancies, who were presented as ‘experts' in the field of BHR. Only one plenary session dealt with the victims of corporate abuse. The message from the Forum seemed to be that human rights can be ‘managed away'. Official speeches extolled the ‘promising areas of consensus and cooperation among business, civil society, governments, and international institutions' unperturbed by the criticisms of human rights NGOs.
2.What do you think we can expect from this second meeting?
The Second Forum will be even bigger and is likely to follow the same model. The agenda is as carefully controlled as a meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea. While NGOs do have speaking slots they are usually hemmed in by apologists for the corporate sector or crammed together in a side event. As a result, the Forum may be even less open to listening to the views of those who represent victims and communities whose rights have been violated by corporations.
The 2013 buzzwords are ‘innovation', good practice and ‘alignment'. A large number of sessions are devoted to training methodologies on the GPs and tools for business to assist in them in conducting due diligence or reporting. The proponents of the GPs seem desperate to make sure there is no deviation from or criticism of this approach. They conveniently blur the distinction between the GPs (after all they are only a tool for implementing the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework') and the underlying international human rights standards, which in theory they were designed to uphold. It makes little sense to call for alignment to a set of tools. The Forum is being used to promote a managerial response to corporate-related human rights violations, which are reduced to a communication issue: ‘knowing and showing'. This has little to do with a genuine human rights approach - the corporate world is definitely in the driving seat. The victims of corporate abuse have been airbrushed out of the picture and it is disappointing to see OHCHR apparently colluding in this.
In a particularly insensitive move, one of the few speaking slots has been given to Barrick Gold, a mining company that is currently engaged in a highly controversial remediation programme for women who were raped by its security personnel at the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea. The OHCHR should be careful not to allow this event to be used by companies seeking to enhance their reputations otherwise the Forum risks turning into a cut-price version of Davos.
3. Do you see the Ecuadorian proposal for a binding treaty on business and human rights viable in the mid-term? What are your concerns about it?
Ecuador's proposal for work to begin on an internationally binding instrument for corporate-related human rights violations is a welcome step. It is important in so far as it shows that many governments share NGO concerns about the lack of legal accountability for serious corporate-related human rights violations. But any moves towards developing an international convention will meet a lot of opposition. However the current situation is not sustainable and perhaps, if carefully managed, agreement can be reached to develop a convention with limited scope. The former SRSG has spoken about the "applicability to companies of international standards prohibiting gross human rights abuses, potentially amounting to international crimes" as an area "that requires more immediate international attention." Even the lacklustre UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights has indicated that it is supporting an initiative by OHCHR to explore how to achieve a more coherent global response to corporate liability for the most serious human rights abuses. So NGOs should take this as encouragement to press ahead.
4. What exactly have we lost from the Draft UN Norms prepared by the old UN Sub-Commission to the Guiding Principles (2011)?
At the start of his mandate the former SRSG closed down further discussion of the Norms, insisting that they were so deeply flawed that no part could be salvaged. Yet, as commentators noted at the time, this wholesale rejection of all aspects of the Norms made little sense as parts of the document simply restated international legal principles already applicable to business with regard to human rights.
The main difference between the Norms and the GPs is that the Norms envisaged some kind of national and international enforcement mechanisms, which are anathema to the corporate world.
After a stormy regional consultation in Buenos Aires in 2009 (at which the NGOs had unsuccessfully urged the SRSG to set up a systematic consultation mechanism for affected persons and communities) the SRSG commented in exchange with ESCR Net that the Norms might have survived had they confined themselves to translating broad principles into management practices and tools. There is an abiding suspicion that the corporate world was persuaded to give strong endorsement to the GPs only in return for a promise that there would no move towards binding regulation.
5. From your experience working on corporate accountability regarding cases in Zambia and DRC, what are the main obstacles to the access to justice?
The obstacles to access to justice are similar the world over but in countries where the rule of law is not upheld, particularly in conflict-affected countries, these problems are magnified. The Kilwa trial is the only prosecution that has taken place in the DRC in which a company and its employees were indicted for international crimes. The Kilwa case concerns a military incident in October 2004 in which a number of combatants and civilians were killed in the context of an attack by Government forces to recover the Kilwa town from the hands of rebel forces.
According to Feeney, without accountability, there is no deterrence of violations Anvil Mining Congo, a subsidiary of the Australian/Canadian mining company Anvil Mining, was accused of having assisted in the alleged massacre of civilians by supplying logistical support and transport. Anvil Mining stated that its transport and equipment were requisitioned by the authorities and that it had no choice in the matter. In 2007 the military court acquitted all the defendants, including the company and three employees. At every stage, the court attempted to dismiss or discredit the evidence of the victims and their families. Many witnesses came under heavy pressure not to testify and their lawyers could not reach the hearings in Kilwa.
In November 2010, families of the Congolese victims filed a class action against Anvil Mining, the Canadian parent company. In April 2011, the Quebec Superior Court ruled the case could proceed to the class certification stage. However, the Quebec Court of Appeal, despite stating sympathy for the obstacles faced by the victims in seeking justice, overturned this decision on jurisdiction and the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application for leave to appeal. So after nine years of struggle the families must contemplate starting all over again in another jurisdiction provided that procedural obstacles can be surmounted. Cases of such gravity and magnitude should not be dealt with by non-judicial mechanisms but at the present they remain in a legal limbo.
The GPs' promotion of almost untried and untested industry-level or company-based grievance mechanisms has given a big push to private initiatives. Civil society groups have pointed to the overwhelming power imbalances between companies and affected communities as a serious complicating factor. The GPs' effectiveness criteria seem to offer a fig leaf rather than any genuine safeguard to ensure impartiality and equality. In reality these grievance mechanisms - which lack proper oversight mechanisms - are prone to interference and manipulation by the most powerful.
6. How can those obstacles be removed?
There appear to be two conflicting approaches to business and human rights: one could be termed ‘consequentialist' (espoused by John Ruggie) which seeks ‘practical outcomes', and the other, is more a principle-based or ‘deontic' approach to human rights. The principle-based approach requires accountability because torture, extra-judicial executions, and other human rights violations flourish in a culture of impunity.
Without accountability, there is no deterrence and no prospect of reparation for the victims of human rights violations. Accountability is also essential to standard setting, which must be informed by careful investigation and determination so that the human rights engaged are properly identified and understood and the appropriate lessons learned. The widespread endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles has accelerated an already discernible trend towards the privatisation of human rights. Just as governments have increasingly outsourced former government or public regulatory functions to private actors and agencies, this trend is now becoming the norm in the human rights sphere. This presents the human rights movement with a considerable challenge.
As Human Rights Watch has said we have reached the paltry limits of what can be achieved with the current enforcement-free approach to the human rights problems of global companies. NGOs should expose the limitations of pragmatism and stand up for a genuine human rights approach - one that treats the victims with compassion and respect and which offers them an effective legal remedy against corporate abuse. It is long overdue.
Declaration - The World Trade Organization (WTO) and Indigenous Peoples: Resisting Globalization, Asserting Self-Determination
6 December 2013
We, the Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth gathered here in Bali, Indonesia on 2-6 December 2013, organizing our own workshop and various events parallel to the World Trade Organization Ninth Ministerial Meeting (WTO MC9), hereby agreed to resist neoliberal globalization and assert our right to Self-Determination.
As Indigenous Peoples of the land and the waters, we have a close relationship to Mother Earth and nature. This relationship tells us that life on Mother Earth is in danger and coming to a time of great transformation. We are accepting the responsibility as the guardians of the earth, which has been designated by our respective Original Instructions woven into our cosmovisions, cultures, languages, and ways of life. We are telling the trade ministers of the world governments that we must all work together to create a new paradigm in global trade instruments and economic systems that fully recognizes the vital life-giving cycles, well-being and territorial integrity of Mother Earth.
We reaffirm our responsibilities to protect and defend our lands, water, territories, natural resources, culture and traditional knowledge, all of which are vital to the survival of all of humanity and for future generations. We will persevere in our struggle in reclaiming our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples and for the well-being of Mother Earth. Until the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and universal laws that recognize Mother Earth as a living being are observed and respected, genuine sustainable development will not be achieved.
We share a common history of colonization and globalization. For centuries, we experienced the colonisation of our lands, territories, air, ice, oceans and waters, mountains and forests. Colonialism institutionalized the oppression and exploitation of Indigenous Peoples up to the current era of globalization, exacerbated by the neoliberal impositions of multilateral trade agreements implemented over six decades through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. In its 9th Ministerial Conference, we believe that the WTO will only push for greater neoliberal policies on globalization, liberalization, privatization, deregulation, and denationalization that will consequently intensify the violation of our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples and the multiple crises that humanity confronts today.
Thus, with our common problems, aspirations and struggles, we resolved to strengthen our unity as Indigenous Peoples and link our struggles with various democratic sectors and organizations worldwide until our right to self-determination and liberation is achieved.
The World Trade Organization and Violation of Indigenous Peoples' Rights
The WTO is the primary instrument of neoliberal globalization to further economic globalization especially in international trade. It aims to build a unitary system of trade relations of countries around the world governed by various agreements. WTO's catchphrases of "borderless world", "leveling the playing field" and "free market democracies", involves the removal of restrictions or so-called trade barriers that hinder greater corporate profit. While the WTO binds the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to implement the neoliberal policies on trade of goods and services, the few capitalist countries on the other hand, protect their economies from these "free market" policies.
Several WTO Ministerials, such as the Doha Development Round in 2001, collapsed due to continuing disagreements over subsidies on agricultural products, market access, and special safeguard mechanisms, and massive Peoples' protests. In its 9th Ministerial Conference, the WTO will make decisions on any of the multilateral trade related agreements such as the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMS), and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and forge new multilateral agreements. The proposed agreement for the MC9 called the Bali Package will push for greater liberalization in agriculture, acceleration of LDCs in the WTO, and expedite trade facilitation through restructuring of GATT articles on imports-exports and trade costs. The Bali Package, along with post-Bali issues on International Technology Agreement (ITA) and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), are labeled by developed countries as the solution to the stalled Doha Round to pursue intensified trade liberalization.
Indigenous Peoples, especially future generations, will be extremely affected by these decisions and agreements. For over 6 six decades now, since colonization, neoliberal policies have intensified the sufferings of the Indigenous Peoples. Our lands, territories and natural resources have beenexploited by unsustainable development projects, such as mono-cultural chemically intensive plantations, extractive industries such as mining, oil drilling, hydro projects and other environmentally destructive "renewable" energy projects. Trade and investment liberalization have resulted in development aggression and plunder of our territories. We have been displaced from our Indigenous lands and territories. Our Indigenous knowledge, values and spirituality have been bastardized. And our rights to self-determination, to our own governance and own self-determined development have been violated. While defending our inherent and collective rights, we continue to suffer from militarization and State terrorism, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, assassination, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, criminalization of community resistance, harassment and vilification as "terrorists." All of this has happened for the sake of globalization, and is bound to worsen as the WTO imposes more agreements and policies.
Our experiences show that the removal of tariffs and quantitative restrictions on import goods has led to the influx of foreign products in domestic markets. The AoA has unleashed agricultural liberalisation and imposed the importation of agricultural crops even if locally produced. It has forced many developing countries to favor transnational agricultural companies like Monsanto and compelled impoverished Indigenous Peoples to use high yielding varieties (HYV) seeds without being informed of the negative effects. The AoA pushes for commercial agricultural production, replacing traditional plant varieties with genetically altered species marketed by agriculture companies, and chemical-laden foods. The AoA eliminates the ability of Indigenous Peoples to produce culturally appropriate and sufficient food. Such trading system is detrimental to Indigenous Peoples' food security, health and sustainability. It forces dependency to the capitalist market and weakens Indigenous Peoples' ability to self-determined development and food sovereignty. The WTO demands reduction of subsidies on price support, while capitalist countries refuse to apply this in their own economies. This has damaged livelihoods resulting in bankruptcy of farmers including Indigenous Peoples, as they are unable to compete with subsidized and cheaper imports from abroad. States worsen this situation by failing to protect Indigenous Peoples' sources of livelihood and food, land and resources.
Through our harmonious relations with nature as part of our spirituality, culture and beliefs, we maintain knowledge and practice of Indigenous medicines from medicinal plants and animals. We, however, are denied rights and control over our Indigenous medicines when these are taken over by big corporations as their intellectual property rights under WTO. Big pharmaceutical corporations race for patents to gain exclusive control for the production, marketing, distribution and sales of products derived from indigenous knowledge and practice. We are also alarmed that the WTO allows the patenting of life forms including extraction of genetic information under its TRIPS. These capitalist monsters treat Indigenous Peoples as valuable and vulnerable targets for medical research and experiments.
Trade agreements on services have further marginalized and impoverished us, with very limited access to basic social and health services, a situation worsened by government neglect and discrimination. Our right to quality and affordable education and health is further violated by GATS which allows foreign corporations to own and operate educational and health institutions leading to profit-oriented and corporate owned services that are available only to the few who have the means to pay. Education is designed to meet the needs and interests of the multinational corporations and the advanced capitalist countries above the social values and needs of Indigenous communities and national development of poor countries. As a result, the youth and the next generations' futures are bleak and the survival of our Indigenous knowledge is in peril.
Globalisation has even destroyed our biological and cultural diversity, ecosystems, values and traditional knowledge that constitute our existence as humans and as Indigenous Peoples. It is the culprit of the climate crisis, which exacerbates the historical, political, and economic marginalisation of Indigenous Peoples. It puts Indigenous Peoples in a very vulnerable situation, notwithstanding the fact that Indigenous Peoples have contributed the least to the climate crisis.
The dominant world capitalist system under which the WTO and similar trade agreements operate is the culprit to the multiple crises that humanity confronts today. The neoliberal policies of globalization, liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization are the root causes of the protracted economic, financial, political, and climatic crises that have put Indigenous Peoples in more oppressive and exploitative conditions and the planet on the brink of destruction. The WTO MC9 in its Bali Package is hell-bent on pushing and imposing more new deals that would intensify our misery ten-fold, as it demands the acceleration of neoliberal globalization for more profit to the few ruling elite of the advanced capitalist countries and their transnational corporations above the interest of Indigenous Peoples, humanity and Mother Earth. Clearly, the WTO advances the neoliberal globalization framework and violates all the rights of Peoples, including Indigenous Peoples and Nations, to self-determination, life and liberty. The WTO is an instrument that serves the primary interest of the multinational corporations and the few advanced capitalist countries to the detriment of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, humanity, Mother Earth and all life.
We will persevere in our struggle to gain self-determination and autonomy. Until our right to self-determination is respected, genuine sustainable development will not be achieved.
We are united to oppose and reject the commodification, privatisation and plunder of nature, which includes the green economy, false- or market-based solutions including biodiversity and conservations offsets that put profit above humanity and the planet. We are in solidarity to resist neoliberal globalization. We are united to fight for our rights to self-determination and assert the future we want. We declare to Junk WTO, oppose new deals, and push for an alternative trade agenda appropriate to Indigenous Peoples.
We push for an alternative trade system appropriate for us. We do not just reject trade per se, but push for trade systems that respect and recognise our traditional economies and governance. We envision systems that promote solidarity, mutual cooperation and respect, based on the needs and development of our communities and empowerment of our people. We demand systems that underpin our inherent right to self-determination and our permanent sovereignty over our traditional lands, territories and resources, forests, water, and everything that sustains life for the future generations. We demand systems that reject, and call for the abolition of, all colonial, unequal, and neocolonial trade agreements such as the WTO and other similar trade agreements.
We will continue to strengthen our ranks and further develop and mobilize the capacities of the young generations and women in advancing our struggles against neoliberal globalization and its instruments like the WTO until its removal. We will link our struggles not only with Indigenous Peoples worldwide, but also with other Peoples' movements, democratic and marginalized sectors and civil society organisations (CSOs) that have common goals and aspirations with that of Indigenous Peoples. We join the worldwide movement to Junk WTO and reject Neoliberal Globalization.
We commit to consolidate our efforts to engage the WTO and other multilateral, regional and bilateral trade syndicates/agreements, and we strongly oppose agreements forged without our knowledge, participation, and consent. In our engagement to these trade agreements, we shall bring to the forefront as main points of assertion our inherent right to self-determination, self-determined and sustainable development, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Alta Outcome Document and other declarations on our collective rights as Indigenous Peoples.
We shall strive to achieve gains that go beyond the mechanisms and opportunities in the UN, and of the benevolence of States and governments. Like in other international fora, processes and mechanisms, we shall create our own spaces asserting our rights to lands, territories, and self-determination.
We must take collective control of our natural resources based on the principles of people's participation, gender equality, environmental and social justice, self-reliant and sustainable management systems and mindful of the needs of the whole of humanity while maintaining a deep respect, responsibility and recognition of the natural laws of Mother Earth and all creatures within. We must regain sovereignty over our lands and resources from multinational corporations and capitalist countries. We focus on building sustainable communities based on indigenous knowledge and peoples' development, not on capitalist development. We must strive to promote and assert our sustainable ways of life, social and cultural values for the common good and the whole of society, collective interest over individual, service over profit, respect and care for nature and Mother Earth, including our viable solutions as opposed to false solutions to climate change.
While we continue to unite as Indigenous Peoples worldwide, we also uphold the spirit of international solidarity with other sectors, organizations, activists and genuine advocates of our issues. This solidarity advances our global campaign for Indigenous Peoples' rights to self-determination and liberation. Junk WTO! No New Deals!
Our Immediate Demands
As we conclude our workshop and events parallel to the WTO MC9, we state the following demands to the World Trade Organisation, the States and Corporations:
We demand for focus on new economies based on the principles of living in harmony with nature and governed by the absolute limits and boundaries of ecological sustainability, the carrying capacities of Mother Earth, and in recognition of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.
We demand for a stop to the capitalism of nature. All economic frameworks and trade regimes that privatise and financialise the functions of nature through green economy initiatives must be halted. Mother Earth is the source of life which needs to be protected, not a resource to be exploited and commodified as a natural capital. We call for the halt of all policies controlling the reproductive capacity of Mother Earth through market-based mechanisms that allow for the quantification and commodification of the natural processes of Mother Earth being branded as ecosystem services.
We demand for the respect of Indigenous Peoples' collective rights, such as but not limited to their traditional lands, territories, resources, free prior informed consent (FPIC), self-determination, culture and identity, and traditional management systems as enshrined in the UNDRIP and other international standards in negotiations and agreements. All trade agreements on investments, programs and projects affecting our lands, territories, communities, culture and identity without our FPIC must be immediately revoked and cancelled.
We demand for the repeal of all trade agreements affecting us without our meaningful, full and effective participation and FPIC. Likewise, we demand for Indigenous Peoples' full and active participation in decision-making processes and discourses on trade and other matters affecting us at all levels. Our right to FPIC is fundamental, and thus we continue to assert that this must be respected. Nothing About Us, Without Us!
We demand for the full recognition of Indigenous Peoples' inherent and inalienable right toself-determination and permanent sovereignty over our lands, territories, resources, air, ice, oceans, waters, mountains and forests.
We demand an end to the the militarization of our communities, for States and corporations to be held accountable on human rights violations, and ensured justice to the victims andtheir families and communities who have experienced such atrocities.
Likewise, States should provide concrete support, such as appropriate technologies and funds, to help us develop for ourselves our own self-determined and sustainable development models and methods.
Stop the theft and patenting of our traditional seeds, medicines, traditional knowledge, and our identity. Stop the commodification of our sacred culture for megatourism projects and other big businesses.
Stop the criminalization of community resistance and end the culture of impunity. Pull out State armed forces in Indigenous territories, and uphold the responsibility to provide basic social services to Indigenous communities.
Affirmed this 3rd day of December 2013, in Bali, Indonesia.