The Manila Declaration of the International Conference on Extractive Industries and Indigenous PeoplesPublished by MAC on 2009-04-02
Legend Villas, Metro Manila, Philippines
The Manila Declaration of the International Conference on Extractive Industries and Indigenous Peoples
When all the trees have been cut down,
When all the animals have been hunted,
When all the waters are polluted,
When all the air is unsafe to breathe,
Only then will you discover you cannot eat money - Cree prophecy
Treat the earth well, it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children - Chief Seattle
We, Indigenous Peoples and support organisations from 35 countries around the world and representing many more Indigenous Nations, have gathered together in this International Conference on Extractive Industries and Indigenous Peoples. As Indigenous Peoples we have a unique cosmic vision, diversity of languages, histories, spirituality and territories which have existed since time immemorial. However, we now find ourselves within the borders of States which have established norms and laws according to their interests. On account of this situation, we have suffered disproportionately from the impact of extractive industries as our territories are home to over sixty percent of the world's most coveted mineral resources. This has resulted in many problems to our peoples, as it has attracted extractive industry corporations to unsustainably exploit our lands, territories and recourses without our consent. This exploitation has led to the worst forms of, environmental degradation, human rights violations and land dispossession and is contributing to climate change.
Environmental degradation includes, but is not limited to, erosion of our fragile biological diversity, pollution of land, air and water, and destruction of whole ecological systems. Extractive industries and particularly those relating to fossil fuels, also have significantly contributed to the climate change that is destroying our Mother Earth.
Human rights violations range from violations of Indigenous Peoples' right to self-determination (which includes the right to determine one's own economic, social and cultural development), rights to lands, territories and resources, as well as displacement and violations of the most basic civil and political rights, such as arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, enforced disappearances and killings.
Our cultural diversity has also been grossly eroded because of the destruction of biological diversity and lands, territories and resources by extractive industries upon which our cultures are based. This erosion of our cultural diversity is also a result of the imposition of colonial systems and the settlement of non-Indigenous Peoples. Corporations enter into our territories with the promise of "development" through employment, infrastructure building and payment of governmental taxes. Despite these promises, there still exists a situation of dire poverty in those living close to extractive industry projects. This situation has fuelled conflicts between Indigenous Peoples and the State and extractive industry corporations, as well as causing divisions within the Indigenous communities themselves.
On 6-16 May 1996, a first "Mining and Indigenous Peoples Conference" held in London produced the "Indigenous Peoples' Declaration on Mining". This declaration highlighted conflicts occurring between our communities and corporations. It reiterated that Indigenous Peoples need to be the decision makers on whether or not mining should take place in their communities and under what conditions this may occur.
Almost 13 years have passed since this conference was held, but overall our situation on the ground has not noticeably improved. The opportunities and threats since the 1996 conference include:-
- the welcome adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) by the UN General Assembly on 13 September 2007;
- new UN mechanisms for the protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, such as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- a greater interest on the relationship between human rights and corporate behaviour, including the work of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises;
- the recognition of corporate social responsibility and a claimed willingness on behalf of corporations to negotiate agreements directly with Indigenous Peoples, although so far much of this seems to be more on paper or promises, as opposed to practice;
- the climate change crisis, coming about mainly because of dependence of the current economy on fossil fuels. These resources are mined on our land and many of our peoples are disproportionately affected by such activities; and
- the global financial crisis, caused by the unregulated liberalisation of finance.
Based on the foregoing observations, we assert that:-
- Indigenous Peoples are rights holders, with an inextricable link to their lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired, and should not be treated merely as stakeholders. We have a right to self-determination of our political condition and to freely choose our economic, social and cultural development (UN DRIP Article 3);
- our rights are inherent and indivisible and seek recognition not only of our full social, cultural and economic rights but also our civil and political rights; . all doctrines, policies and practices based on the presumed superiority of colonial peoples and worldviews should be condemned;
- we contribute to the diversity and richness of the cultures that make up humanity and believe that we can teach valuable lessons to the rest of the world through our values and world views in how to tread gently upon the earth;
- destruction of Indigenous Peoples sacred sites and areas of spiritual and cultural significance by extractive industries must stop;
- the vulnerable position of women and youth with regard to the impacts of extractive industries, including loss of livelihoods, violence and impacts on health and well-being must be recognized;
- the development model premised on unsustainable consumption and production, and corporate globalisation, which fuels the entry of extractive industries onto our lands must be rejected;
- respect for the preservation of life on earth, and our right to food, must have precedence over extractive industry projects;
- extractive industry projects must not take precedence over our right to land - regardless of whether our rights are based on legal recognition or usufruct rights;
- there must be an immediate end to the criminalization of community resistance, the violent intimidation, harassment, and murder, of our leaders, activists and lawyers who are working for the defence of our lands and lives;
- extractive industry projects must not take precedence over the human right to water. Water is especially important in our lives and is sacred to us. In addition the major reserves of fresh water are found in our territories;
- the right to water is a fundamental human right which must be recognized. We therefore condemn the conduct of the World Water Council which demotes the right to water a "basic need";
- negotiations about climate change should not be conducted by States and international organisations unless there is full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, mitigation and adaptation measures related to climate change must be designed and implemented in keeping with Indigenous Peoples' rights;
- the failure to hold extractive industries to account in host and home countries must be addressed and mechanisms for accountability and enforcement must be created immediately; and . implementation of interstate infrastructure initiatives - such as the South American Regional Infrastructure Initiative (IIRSA) - that lead to mega-projects on our lands and territories without first obtaining our free prior and informed consent (FPIC) are destructive to our cultures and survival, and a denial of our right to self determination.
Given the above, in order to ensure respect for the rights recognized in the UN DRIP, as well as the ecological integrity of our planet and communities, we call for:-
- a stop to the plunder of our lands, territories and resources;
- a moratorium on further extractive industry projects that affect or threaten our communities, until structures and processes are in place that ensure respect for our human rights. The determination of when this has been realized can only be made by those communities whose lives, livelihoods and environment are affected by those projects;
- due process and justice to victims of human rights violations who are resisting extractive industries;
- review of all on-going projects that are approved without respect for our FPIC and self determination rights; and
- compensation and restitution for damages inflicted upon our lands, territories and resources, and the rehabilitation of our degraded environments caused by extractive industry projects that did not obtain our FPIC.
We call on Indigenous Communities and their Supporters:-
- to actively participate in the global network of indigenous peoples on extractive industries which was established at this international conference and will be aimed at strengthening the capacities of local organization through sharing of information, education and training programmes, research and advocacy in the defence of our rights;
- to coordinate research on mining companies, processes and investment sources to empower communities, build strategic plans and ensure recognition and respect for our rights;
- to assert their right to control the authorization of projects, and where FPIC has been given, the conduct of extractive activities in indigenous lands and territories through the use of indigenous customary laws;
- to create a mechanism to compile legal precedents from relevant court decisions on Indigenous Peoples and extractive industries;
- to build relationships with non-indigenous groups concerned with the problem of extractive industries, nationally and internationally, to find common ground; and
- to establish a International Day of Action on Extractive Industries and Indigenous Peoples.
We call on Civil Society Organisations:-
- to increase their support, and solidarity in a manner that is sensitive to the issues of Indigenous Peoples;
- especially conservation and other NGOs, not to impose themselves or their views upon us, but respect our legitimate leadership and also seek the FPIC of communities before intervening; this also applies to academics including anthropologists; and
We call on Companies:-
- to respect international standards as elaborated on in the normative framework of indigenous peoples rights, especially the minimum standards as set forth in the UN DRIP, ILO Convention 160 and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which includes in particular, the right to lands, territories and resources and attendant right to FPIC. This also applies to consultants;
- to submit to independent and credible monitoring;
- to be accountable for the environmental disasters, destruction and human rights violations as a result of their operations;
- to employ proven technology and adhere to the precautionary principle at all levels and in each project;
- to recognize the specific vulnerability of indigenous women to the negative impacts involved with extractive industries;
- to respect the traditional knowledge and intellectual property of Indigenous Peoples. This implies not appropriating the language or names of Indigenous Peoples for companies or projects;
- to ensure full transparency in all aspects of their operations, and especially to ensure affected communities have full access to information in forms and languages they can understand; and
- to conduct and implement environmental, social, cultural and human rights impact assessments to the highest international standards ensuring independent review and participation of indigenous peoples;
We call on Investors:-
- to ensure that policies in relation to investments in indigenous territories reflect the rights articulated in the UN DRIP, and that the ethical index listings used should base their investment recommendations on third party information, as opposed solely to information from the company in which they may invest
- to ensure access to information and transparency in relation to all investments in extractive industries in indigenous territories and
- not to invest in fossil fuel related projects.
We call on States:-
- specifically those States that have not done so yet, to endorse the UN DRIP and ratify International Labour Organization (ILO) 169, and for those States who have to uphold the rights articulated therein;
- to establish, in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, clear mechanisms and procedures at national levels for the implementation of international juridical instruments, specifically the UN DRIP, ILO 169 and ICERD;
- to review laws and policies on extractive industries that are detrimental to Indigenous Peoples, and ensure consistency with the UN DRIP and international instruments protecting Indigenous Peoples rights;
- to recognize and enforce the rights Indigenous Peoples to FPIC as laid out in UN DRIP, in accordance with our customary laws and traditional practices;
- to recognize and ensure the demarcation and titling of our ancestral lands;
- to recognize our customary laws and traditional mechanisms of conflict resolutions;
- to support the efforts of Indigenous Peoples to develop economic alternatives to extractive industries, in order to alleviate the poverty that creates false dependencies on extractive industries;
- to abolish hedge funds and all forms of private equity that are not transparent and well regulated, and which distort the price of minerals;
- to legislate and regulate thorough processes for independently conducted environmental, social, cultural and human rights impact assessments, with regular monitoring during all of the phases of production and rehabilitation;
- to protect indigenous activists, human rights defenders and lawyers working on human rights issues, and where the State is the violator we demand an end to the violations against our peoples;
- to ban particularly harmful extractive practices, including riverine tailings disposal, gas flaring, effluent discharges, submarine tailings disposal, mountain top removal and large scale open-pit mining. Given the risks posed by climate change, serious re-consideration should be given to the construction of tailings containment in low-lying coastal areas and in areas exposed to increasingly severe weather events and
- to ensure that their development cooperation policies and programmes respect Indigenous Peoples rights', in particular in the context of extractive industries and our right to FPIC.
We call on the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII):-
- to conduct a study, with the participation of Indigenous Peoples, on the impact of extractive industries on them, by consolidating all recommendations, observations and decisions of UN Treaty and Charter bodies pertaining to the subject and identifying the measures taken by States to adhere with these;
- to elaborate mechanisms and procedures for States to implement the minimum standards set forth in the UN DRIP, including in particular the right to FPIC and to call on other UN procedures, mechanisms, agencies and bodies and other Multilatteral bodies to do likewise;
- to establish procedures which provide indigenous communities with the opportunity to request the relevant UN agencies to assist them in the monitoring and provision of independent information in FPIC processes;
- to support the proposal that there be an international Mother Earth Day, and encourage all UN agencies, mechanisms and bodies to do likewise;
- to demand the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all discussions and decisions pertaining to international agreements and conventions that address issues of biological diversity and or climate change;
- to emphasize the need to address the direct and indirect impacts of extractive industry on climate change, including those associated with mitigation measures;
- to emphasize the need for the widespread diffusion of information and critical debate between Indigenous Peoples about the ongoing mechanisms and negotiations relative to carbon trading and the carbon market;
- to request that the Special Representative to the Secretary General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other businesses, John Ruggie, to actively engage with impacted indigenous community through workshops addressing indigenous peoples rights and the extractive industry, and together with other UN procedures, bodies and agencies, promote the enactment of legislation in home states of transnational corporations that provides for extraterritorial jurisdiction in relation to their activities; . to facilitate dialogue between indigenous peoples, investors, fund managers, extractive industry corporations and consultants;
- to recommend that the World Bank Group and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs) update its operational directives and safeguard policies pertaining to Indigenous Peoples to include the right to FPIC, as required under the UN DRIP. Specifically to recommend to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that it include the requirement to obtain FPIC in its safeguard policies on Indigenous Peoples environment and resettlement;
- to recommend that the World Bank Group and other IFIs immediately stop funding, promoting and supporting fossil fuel related projects and large scale mining and hydro electric projects on indigenous lands, and provide a set timeline for ending of all such funding;
- to recommend that the World Bank and other IFIs stop influencing the design of national policies in developing countries in a manner that promotes the interests of transnational mining corporations over the rights of indigenous communities;
- to recommend that the World Health Organisation consider conducting a study on the impact of cyanide and heavy metals on the right to health of communities impacted by mining;
- to address the urgent need for the genuine recognition of indigenous religious, cultural and spiritual rights, including their sacred sites in the context of extractive projects and
- to recommend that all bilateral trade agreements should guarantee that indigenous peoples' human rights are respected.
Organizational Signatories (as of 1 April 2009)
Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara/Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (Indonesia)
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (Philippines)
Kanak Agency for Development (New Caledonia)
Centre for Environmental Research and Development (Papua New Guinea)
Western Shoshone Defense Project (USA)
PIPLinks - Indigenous Peoples Links (UK)
Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education) (Philippines and UK)
Centre for Human Rights and Development (Mongolia)
Ecological Society of the Philippines (Philippines)
Indigenous Peoples' Forum of North East India (India)
Chin Human Rights Organization (Burma)
Indigenous Knowledge and Peoples Network (Thailand)
Earthkeepers, One Tribe Trading Company (USA)
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (Nepal)
Individual Signatories (as of 1 April 2009)
Mr. Brian Wyatt, National Native Title Council (Australia)
Mr. Cathal Doyle, Irish Center for Human Rights (Ireland)
Ms. Meaghen Simms, the North South Institute (Canada)
Ms. Elisa Canqui Mollo (Bolivia)
Mr. Luis Vittor, Coordinadora Andida de Organizaciónes Indigenas (Peru)
Mr. Yapasuyongu Akuyana, Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples' Policies (Taiwan)
Mr. Xavier Kujur (India)
Mr. Prasert Trakansuphakon, IKAP (Thailand)
Ms. Nima Lama Yolmo, NEFIN (Nepal)
Mr. Tado Karlo, Indigenous People's Forum of North East India (India)
Mr. Hezron Ripko, Pokot Educational and Development Programme (Kenya)
Mr. Andrew Korinko Ole Koisamou, Centre for Pastoralists Development (Kenya)
Mr. Nicholas Soikan, MPIDO (Kenya)
Mr. Legborssi Saro Pyagbara, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Nigeria)
Ms. Maria Uazukuani, Garib Nama Heritage Foundation (South Africa)
Mr. Joseph Stephanus, Garib Nama Cultural Foundation (Namibia)
Ms. Angela Laiser, community Research and Development Services (Tanzania)
Mr. Paul Kadege, Kileto Civil Society Forum (Tanzania)
Mr. Achia Peter Edison, Matheniks Development Forum (Uganda)
Mr. Alexey Mimanzo, RAIPON (Russia)
Ms. Liubov Passar, Association of Indigenous Peoples of Khabarousk Region (Russia)
Ms. Nyurguyana Dordina, Batani International Development Fund for Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East (Russia)
Mr. Anders Blom, The National Union for Swedish Sami People (Sweden)
Mr. Rabindranath Soren, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad (Bangladesh)
Ms. Chea Sopheap, Indigenous Community Support Organization (Cambodia)
Ms. Chuong Ham, Indigenous Community Support Organization (Cambodia)
Mr. Khan Chontharo, the NGO Forum on Cambodia (Cambodia)
Mr. Kim Sereikith, Development and Partnership in Action (Cambodia)
Mr. Sao Sokul, Organization to Promote Kui Culture (Cambodia)
Mr. Sreunh Mach, Bonung Indigenous Community (Cambodia)
Ms. Dayamani Barla, Adivasi Astitwa Rakcha Maneh (India)
Mr. priak Ksing Riahtam, St. John Bosco Boy's Higher Secondary school (India)
Mr. Punit Rajkishor Minz, Bindrai Institute for Research study and Action, Mines Monitoring Center (India)
Ms. Rajulamma Chagarla, SAMATA & MM&P (India)
Mr. Samar Basu Mullick, Bindrai Institute for Research study and Action (India)
Mr. Sujarni Alloy, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantra Kalimantan Barat (Indonesia)
Mr. Mulamin, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantra South Sumatra (Indonesia)
Ms. Mina Susana Setra, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantra (Indonesia)
Ms. Paimaneh Hasteh (Iran)
Mr. Khamla Soubandith, Community Knowledge Support Organization (Laos)
Ms. Urantsooj Gombosuren, Centre for Human Rights and Development (Mongolia)
Ms. Abigail Bengwayan, Cordillera People's Alliance (Philippines)
Mr. Ahop Agate, Mangyan Mission (Philippines)
Ms. Lilia Paglinawan, Interfaith Movement for Peace Empowerment & Development Incorporated (Philippines)
Mr. Lucenio Manda, PGB (Philippines)
Mr. Norberto Puasan, Dulangan Federation of Higaonon (Philippines)
Ms. Wilma Tero, Kesalabuukan Tupusumi (Philippines)
Mr. Windel Bolinget, Cordillera People's Alliance (Philippines)
Ms. Isabel Corio, Bangsa Palawan-Philippines Inc. (Philippines)
Ms. Rebecca Bear-Wingfield, Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (Australia)
Ms. Marina Kahlemu, National Council for Indigenous Peoples (New Caledonia)
Mr. Sarimin Boengkih, Kanak Agency for Development (New Caledonia)
Mr. Jeffery Simon, Akali Tange Association Incorporation & Porgera Alliance (Papua New Guinea)
Ms. Matilda Koma, Centre for Environmental Research & Development (Papua New Guinea)
Mr. Martin Velasquez Maliqueo, Confederacion Mapuche (Argentina)
Mr. Erwin Freddy Mamani Machaca, Mision Permanente de Bolivia Ante Las Naciones Unidas (Bolivia)
Mr. Jose Valentin Muiba Guaji, Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indigenas de la Cuenca Amazonia (Ecuador)
Mr. Waldo Muller, Region Autonoma Norte Raan, Consejo Regional Autonomo (Nicaragua)
Mr. Saul Puerta Peña, Asociacion Interetnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (Peru)
Ms. Loreen Jubitana, Bureau Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname, Association of Indigenous village Leaders in Suriname (Suriname)
Ms. Sandra Jack, Taku River Tlingit First Nation (Canada)
Ms. Julie Ann Cavanaugh-Bill, Western Soshone Defence Project (USA)
Mr. Larson Bill, Western Soshone Defence Project (USA)
Mr. Edward Milner, Acacia Productions Ltd. (UK)
Ms. Joan Carling, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Mr. Asier Martinez de Bringas, Almáciga (Spain)
Mr. Marcos Orellana, Center for International Environmental Law (USA)
Ms. Darleen Gela, Amnesty International (Philippines)
Ms. Hazel Galang, Amnesty International (UK)
Mr. Christian Erni, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs
Ms. Gemma Smith, Life Mosaic (UK)
Mr. Serge Marti, Life Mosaic (UK)
Ms. Rhia Muhi, Legal Rights & Natural Resources Center- Friends of the Earth (Philippines)
Mr. Roger Moody, Mines & Communities (UK)
Ms. Turid Johansen Arnegard, NORAD (Norway)
Mr. Andrew Whitmore, PIPLinks (UK)
Mr. Geoff Nettleton, PIPLinks (UK)
Mr. Stuart Kirsch, University of Michigan (USA)
Mr. Ryan (Kirk) Herbertson, World Resources Institute (USA)
World Indigenous Peoples want global moratorium on mining, other extractive projects
Conference Press Release
26 March 2009
MANILA, Philippines -- The united voice of the Indigenous Peoples yesterday swept from continent to continent in 37 countries calling on their respective governments to stop large-scale mining and other extractive activities (oil and gas projects) on their indigenous lands until effective measures to safeguard their rights and the environment are in place.
The call for a global moratorium on extractive projects for oil, gold, gas and other mineral resources also includes a demand that World Bank must stop funding transnational mining companies in their effort to exploit the world's natural resources.
This is among their collective calls contained in the final Declaration that is set to be submitted to the United Nations, multilateral banks and government officials who will be attending the International Expert Workshop on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Corporate Accountability and Extractive Industry s at the Legend Villas in Mandaluyong City.
According to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a Kankana-ey from the Cordillera and the current chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) that following the growing and alarming reports by indigenous peoples against extractive industries, a recommendation was adopted during the 7th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which authorized a three-day international expert group workshop on indigenous peoples' rights, corporate accountability and the extractive industries and requested that the results of the meeting be reported to the Permanent Forum at its 8th Session, on 18-29 May 2009. The UNPFII s an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.
"We call for a moratorium on further extractive industry projects that may affect us, until structures and processes are in place that will ensure respect for our human rights. The determination of when this can be realized can only be made by those communities whose lives, livelihoods and environment are affected by extractive activities," they said. Further, stronger mechanisms should be enforced to fight the indiscriminate practices of extractive industries, which they said are often ignored or intentionally allowed by their respective governments.
They want the World Bank to immediately stop financing transnational mining companies and commence phasing out of its funding, promotion and support for fossil fuel- related projects, including large-scale mining projects. "The World Bank must provide a timeline to end such funding," the declaration said.
One provision in the UNDRIP -- the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) -- poses serious disagreement with the World Bank, as the latter has not accepted such and instead coined and followed its own words to read: "free, prior and informed consultation." This, the IPs said, has been used by the World Bank and the transnational mining companies to skirt the law and push through with the extractive activities. They said that "consent and consultation" are two different words and each has distinct meaning.
"We want to request that UN to establish procedures which provide indigenous communities with the opportunity to request the relevant UN agencies to assist them in the monitoring and provision of independent information on FPIC processes," they said.
In the Philippines," free, prior and informed consent" is also embodied in the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997.
They added that World Bank Group must update its operational directives and safeguard policies with regard to indigenous peoples and adopt the UNDRIP provision of free, prior and informed consent in all the WB assisted mining projects,
Indigenous lands around the world are facing massive threats from the influx of extractive industries, which the indigenous delegates to this second international conference claimed have appalling records of environmental destructions and violations of human rights of the indigenous peoples.
The 85 delegates from 37 countries said they demand compensation for damages inflicted upon their lands and lives, and the rehabilitation of their degraded environments caused by extractive industries.
As extractive industries invades indigenous lands, countless of violent incidents are happening around the world, which is the reason why the delegates are proposing to create an international indigenous criminal court that would address this kind of problem, including the loss of lives as a result of indiscriminate mining committed by transnational mining firms, and whose "decisions will be based on our customary laws."
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UN to link indigenous peoples worldwide - Network to strengthen struggle for rights
By Erika Tapalla, INQUIRER.net
24 March 2009
MANILA, Philippines---The United Nations is looking to set up a global network by which indigenous peoples (IPs) can help each other respond to violations of their rights, mainly by extractive industries.
Eighty-five IP representatives from Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe and Russia, Arctic, Latin and North America, as well as experts, have gathered in Manila for the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples and Extractive Industries.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said there is a need to unite IPs in a global network to strengthen their responses to the problems they face.
"This conference is really to tackle the indigenous peoples' rights, which are violated by extractive industries...oil, mineral or gas corporations. There is a need to develop a global network because there is no one existing body of IPs, there is no existing global network. If there is one, the voice of these people [is] stronger, so that's what we did in this conference," Corpuz told INQUIRER.net in an interview.
Corpuz said among the things IPs could do is bring their cases before national and international courts, raise awareness about destructive cultural and environmental issues through media, and dialogue with investors.
"By raising the issues and cases to national and even international courts, the voices of the indigenous peoples will be heard. Now, with this global network, hopefully their voices can be heard. Media also [have] a crucial role in delivering the situations, the issues, these people encounter so everyone will know about what is really happening. And lastly, the dialogue with the investors and these corporations will really help. It is in fact the most important thing," Corpuz said.
Corpus also said it was sound corporate thinking to respect IPs' rights.
"It is in the self-interest of these corporations to respect the rights of the indigenous peoples because, if not, there will be more conflict, and more conflict means more expenses for them. Then they [corporations] will be seen in a bad light. If they don't mutually agree to terms or negotiate, it's like they are robbing these people of their own things in their own home," she said.
Corpuz also said states and mining corporations should adhere to the standards set by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to avoid criminalizing IPs for protecting their land or resisting the entry of extractive industries.
The UNDRIP, signed by 143 countries in September 13, 2007, is the latest international agreement adopted by the UN General Assembly.
Conference organizer Tebtebba, the Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education, said cases of human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples have been filed before courts in various countries as well as inter-governmental bodies such as the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
IP representatives said their cultural territories continue to shrink because of massive encroachment by mining companies. The Philippines alone has suffered two of the biggest mining disasters---the collapse of the Tapian Pit of Marcopper Mining Corporation, which spilled 1.6 million cubic meters of mine tailings into the waterways of Marinduque in 1996; and the cyanide-laden waste spill of Australia-owned Lafayette Mining Limited in waters around Rapu-Rapu Island in 2005.
"We thought that the Philippines was in one of the worse states, but after this conference, we have realized that many groups [and] tribes from different parts of the world experience similar issues. The actors involved are the same-- corporations that act like thugs encroaching on the lands of the people," Corpuz said.
International Experts Deliberate on Piles of Human rights and Environment Violations of Extractive Industries
Conference Press Release
28th March 2009
MANILA, Philippines -- Officials of the United Nations system, multilateral institutions such as the European Commission, the World Bank, ADB, Member States of the UN, international experts, indigenous peoples and other organizations attending the International Expert Workshop on Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Corporate Accountability and the Extractive Industries have started deliberating yesterday on piles of serious issues surrounding the Indigenous Peoples all around the world, and in their bid to find better and lasting solutions to stop large-scale oil, gas and mining companies from further destroying indigenous lands, the environment, and contributing to the alarming problem of global warming.
"Although there have been substantial developments in the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples in recent years, indigenous peoples have continued to suffer violations of their human rights on a regular basis. This is especially the case in the context of extractive industries, such as mineral, oil and gas extraction, which disproportionately impact indigenous peoples," said Carol Pollack of the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Issues during her opening address.
The Experts and participants are expected to craft stronger recommendations within the three- day workshop that will help solve the problems of the Indigenous Peoples' rights worldwide and mitigate the effect of climate change which is mainly caused by extractive industries, particularly oil, gas and coal extraction.
Among others, the officials will try to find better mechanisms to force extractive industries into complying with relevant provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which includes self determination, right to traditional lands, right to be secure in subsistence and development, right to conservation and protection of the environment and productive capacity of lands and the often violated free, prior and informed consent provision.
"We have lived within nation states which established norms and laws according to their interest. We have suffered disproportionately from the impact of extractive industries as our territories are home to over sixty percent of the world's most coveted mineral resources," the Indigenous Peoples' said in the final Declaration crafted after the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples and Extractive Industries. "The activities of these corporations have led to the worst forms of environmental degradation, human rights violations and land dispossession," they added.
Although, the extractive industries must play a vital role in addressing these problems, those invited opted not to send their representatives to the international expert workshop, to which Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, a Kankana-ey from the Cordillera and the current chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), expressed disappointment over failure to do so.
In a statement sent to Tauli-Corpuz, the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM), a CEO-led organization representing many of the world's leading mining and metals companies as well as regional, national and commodity associations, said that "it has been working on Indigenous Peoples issues for several years including; producing a Mining and Indigenous People's Review (2005, holding two roundtables on mining and Indigenous Peoples (2005, 2008), seeking legal reviews of FPIC, approving a Position Statement outlining our member's policy on Indigenous Peoples and recently we have produced a first draft of a Good Practice Guidance on Mining and Indigenous Peoples."
Along with ICMM, transnational mining corporations such as Rio Tinto, among others, were also invited to sit in the international expert dialogue. However, they declined saying that, "In view of the global financial crisis, we are cutting on costs and prioritize activities that are essential."
Tauli-Corpuz said, "They did not see the importance of attending a dialogue with the World's Indigenous Peoples, where 60 to 70 percent of the world's minerals, oil and gas are found in their territories. It is sad that they undermined the importance of this event.
"It is in the interest of the extractive industries corporations to listen to indigenous peoples affected by mining, oil and gas projects so that there would be less conflict, less human rights violations and more equitable- sharing and sustainable use of resources if a dialogue with them is to happen," she added.
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World Indigenous Peoples Spur Issues against Mining Firms
Conference Press Release
25th March 2009
Delegates of the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples' and Extractive Industries are set to submit on Saturday to officials of the United Nations, multi-lateral financial agencies and governments their position paper on how to address the plight of the Indigenous Peoples worldwide, including other measures that would mitigate the problems of climate change brought about by the indiscriminate extraction of natural resources.
In the three-day conference attended by 85 representatives from 37 countries, they are one in saying that the manner by which transnational mining companies undertake the extraction of oil, gas, gold and other mineral resources often tramples their basic human rights viz-a-viz the seemingly relaxed regulations imposed on them by the states.
"The faces of violence, the persecution of IPs, and the manner of incursion in our lands are the same worldwide, -- from the continents of Africa to Asia as far as extractive industries are concerned, not to mention the environmental destructions they caused," the world indigenous peoples said.
UN representatives, including those from the World Bank and other multi- lateral financial institutions are also expected to arrive tomorrow for a separate expert workshop, which also caps the three-day affair of the IP delegates. Government representatives from Bolivia, the Philippines, Ecuador and Norway are also expected to participate.
Conference organizer Tebtebba, said they expect a positive response from these institutions, expressing hopes that future endeavors to address these problems will be in accordance to the highest standard set forth under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and on corporate accountability. The UNDRIP is the latest international agreement adopted by the UN General Assembly and signed by 143 countries in September 13, 2007.
They said that while they admit that extractive industries play a vital role in pumping up the economy of the world, this should be done under strict regulations and international standards to protect the environment, propel sustainable development, alleviate poverty and respect and preserve the rights and cultural legacy of the IPs.
"We hold our rights to be inherent and indivisible and seek recognition not only of our full social, cultural and economic rights but also our civil and political rights. We condemn all doctrines, policies and practices based on the presumed superiority of certain peoples and worldviews," they said.
In the Philippines, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources continues to harp the bright opportunities for the mining industry as an estimated $3 Trillion of untapped mineral resources has been opened up for extraction with interested foreign investors. Thus, it is more likely that further dislocations of the local indigenous peoples and environmental degradation will take place unless there is a strong and effective mechanism that will govern the conduct of the mining companies.
Just yesterday, Intex Resources Philippines Inc., a unit of Intex Resources ASA of Norway, signed a $2.95-billion agreement with the Philippines to develop a nickel reserve on an area straddling Occidental and Oriental Mindoro provinces.
This comes at a time when the country also hosts the second international conference in an effort to send a strong message to world and financial leaders to halt future schemes by both the mining companies and governments that go beyond the bounds of the laws and regulations protecting the environment and the rights of the indigenous peoples.
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