Posts Tagged ‘FPIC’

Jul13

The Costs of Ignoring FPIC

Barrick Gold’s shareholders are filing a $6 billion class action lawsuit against the company for allegedly misleading them about the costs of delays at the Pascua Lama Mine in Chile. The mine was suspended in 2013 for violating environmental regulations, after the Supreme Court of Chile upheld a complaint filed by Diaguita communities.

Barrick’s shareholders claim that the company deceived them about the mine’s environmental problems and fraudulently inflated its market value. Barrick’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit was thrown out by a judge who wrote that the plaintiffs “have sufficiently alleged strong circumstantial evidence of conscious misbehavior or recklessness.” The root cause of the mine’s environmental problems is its lack of a social license from Indigenous Peoples, who filed the complaint in the first place and continue to oppose the project.

The absence of ample disclosure requirements for social risks enables companies to omit information that is critical to accurately assessing their viability.

Sources: Now Toronto, Reuters

May17

ANNONCE DE FINANCEMENT: Gardiens de la Terre Auto-gouvernance et d’initiative FPIC

First Peoples Worldwide (First Peoples) est heureuse d’annoncer sa nouvelle initiative de auto-gouvernance et le Consentement Préalable, Libre, et Éclairé (CPLE), une possibilité de financement pour créer ou renforcer le dialogue entre les communautés et les entreprises autochtones existantes en matière de droits autochtones et ressources.

La période coloniale a provoqué de profondes blessures parmi les communautés autochtones; les colons qui cherchaient profiter des atouts riches, utilisaient par les peuples autochtones, systématiquement dépouillaient leur terrain, leur culture, et leurs droits d’eux.

Displaced Maasai. [photo credit: Charles Olengereza, Guardian News Tanzania]

Displaced Maasai. [photo credit: Charles Olengereza, Guardian News Tanzania]

Depuis lors, les communautés autochtones font face au défi et doivent surmonter la crainte de s’exprimer et d’être entendu pour mettre fin à ce mépris flagrant de leurs droits de l’homme.

En 2007, les Nations Unis ont adopté la Déclaration des Nations Unis sur les Droits des Peuples Autochtones (la Déclaration) et a été ratifiée par 143 pays qui donc établissent une norme mondiale pour le traitement des peuples autochtones.

Cette déclaration vitale, mais pas juridiquement contraignant, aiderait à garantir les droits des peuples autochtones au niveau mondial, et le CPLE, qui fait partie de la Déclaration, a été utilisé comme les lignes directrices informelles permettra les communautés autochtones d’approcher leur objectif de garantir l’auto-gouvernance.

L’objectif principal de l’auto-gouvernance et d’initiative CPLE est d’habiliter communautés autochtones d’utiliser leurs connaissances et de gouvernance traditionnels structures, les processus décisionnels, et des alliances avec d’autres communautés, à développer des approches stratégiques de travailler avec les entreprise empiéter sur leurs terres et leurs moyens de la vie.

Afin de promouvoir davantage le développement de la politique CPLE, cette initiative permettra de renforcer l’organisation autochtone de la communauté, la capacité de formulation de la politique, et les efforts de communication avec les gouverneurs ou les autorités de l’entreprise.

Grâce à ses Gardiens de la Terre programme de petites subventions et de fonds, les peuples autochtones favorise l’auto-gouvernance et la capacité autochtone d’exercer CPLE. Les demandes de subvention seront acceptées sur une base mensuelle jusqu’au 31 Octobre, chaque année.

Pour les lignes directrices et les demandes de subvention, s’il vous plaît visitez le site Web des First Peoples (http://www.firstpeoples.org/grants) ou contacter grants@firstpeoples.org.

To apply for the grant, please visit:
http://firstpeoples.org/grants/apply-for-a-grant

May16

OPORTUNIDAD DE FINANCIEMIENTO: Guardianes de la Tierra Auto Gobernanza y CLPI

First Peoples Worldwide (First Peoples) se complace en anunciar su nueva iniciativa de Auto Gobernanza Y Consentimiento Libre, Previo e Informado (CLPI), una oportunidad de financiación para crear o fortalecer el diálogo existente entre las comunidades y las sociedades indígenas con respecto a los derechos y recursos indígenas.

El periodo colonial dejo una cicatriz profunda entre las comunidades Indígenas; su tierra, cultura, y derechos fueron despojados sistemáticamente por los colonizadores buscando ganancias de los activos ricos celebrado por las comunidades. Desde entonces, las comunidades Indígenas han tenido que enfrentar el desafío y superar el miedo de hablar fuerte y ser oídos para poner fin a este desprecio para sus derechos humanos.

En 2007, las Naciones Unidas adopto la Declaración sobre los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas (la Declaración) y ha sido ratificado por 143 países estableciendo un estándar global para el tratamiento de Pueblos Indígenas.

Este vital, pero no jurídicamente vinculante, declaración ayudaría asegurar los derechos de Pueblos Indígenas mundial, and CLPI, que es parte de la Declaración, ha actuado como un directriz informal para juntar mas las comunidades Indígenas en asegurar auto gobernanza.

El propósito principal de la iniciativa de Auto Gobernanza y CLPI es empoderar a las comunidades indígenas a utilizar sus conocimientos tradicionales y estructuras de gobierno, los procesos de toma de decisiones, y alianzas con otras comunidades, para desarrollar enfoques estratégicos para trabajar con las corporaciones invadiendo sus tierras y formas de vida.

Para promover aún más el desarrollo de políticas CLPI, esta iniciativa fortalecerá la organización comunitaria indígena, la capacidad en la formulación de políticas, y de los esfuerzos de comunicación con las autoridades de gobierno o corporativas.

A través de su programa de pequeñas donaciones el fondo Guardianes de la Tierra, los First Peoples promueve el auto gobernanza Indígena y la capacidad de ejercer el CLPI. Las solicitudes de subvención serán aceptadas en forma mensual hasta el 31 de octubre de cada año.

Para las directrices y las solicitudes de subvención, por favor visite el sitio web First Peoples (www.firstpeoples.org/grants) o contacto grants@firstpeoples.org.

To apply for the grant, please visit:
http://firstpeoples.org/grants/apply-for-a-grant

[Photo Credit: Cultural Survival]

[Photo Credit: Cultural Survival]

May15

FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT: Keepers of the Earth Fund Self-Governance and FPIC Initiative

[photo credit: Dzomo la Mupo]

unnamed
First Peoples Worldwide (First Peoples) is pleased to announce its new Self-Governance and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) initiative, a funding opportunity to create or strengthen existing dialogue between Indigenous communities and corporations with respect to Indigenous rights and resources. The colonial period left Indigenous communities deeply scarred; their land, culture, and rights were systematically stripped away by colonists looking to profit from the rich assets utilized by Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples have struggled in the modern world to have their rights and traditional cultures acknowledged by their respective governments, countries, and the world at large. Now, Indigenous Peoples are speaking up to stop this blatant disregard for their rights, and they are being heard.

In 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration), which has since been ratified by 143 countries and sets a global standard for the treatment of Indigenous Peoples. This vital, though not legally binding, declaration is helping to secure Indigenous rights worldwide, and FPIC, which is part of the Declaration, acts as an informal guideline to bringing Indigenous communities closer to securing self-governance.

The primary purpose of the Self-Governance and FPIC initiative is to empower Indigenous communities to use their traditional knowledge and governance structures, decision-making processes, and alliances with other communities, to develop strategic approaches to working with corporations encroaching on their lands and ways of life. To further promote FPIC policy development, this initiative will strengthen Indigenous community organizing, capacity in policy formulation, and communication efforts with governing or corporate authorities.

Through its Keepers of the Earth small grants program and fund, First Peoples promotes Indigenous self-governance and capacity to exercise FPIC. Grant applications will be accepted on a monthly basis through October 31st, annually.

For guidelines and grant applications, please visit First Peoples website (www.firstpeoples.org/grants) or contact grants@firstpeoples.org.

To apply for the grant, please visit:
http://firstpeoples.org/grants/apply-for-a-grant

Apr09

Indigenous People In Danger of Displacement: The Nicaraguan Canal and its Drastic Effects

Nicaraguans protest the canal construction [Photo source: Noticiero Digital]

Nicaraguans protest the canal construction
[Photo source: Noticiero Digital]

by Katie Redmiles

Vendepatria!”: an epithet for one who sells his own homeland, was shouted at the Nicaraguan government by protesters during the groundbreaking of the Nicaraguan Canal.

The Indigenous people of Nicaragua, known as campesinos, gathered by the thousands in early October to protest the plan for the interoceanic canal to cut across the country. Protesters held up banners reading “Chinese go home!” and “Our land is not for sale!” The march organizer herself, Francis Ramirez, said in response to the projected canal plan that she “would rather die than hand over [her] property,” as quoted by the Huffington Post.

President of Nicaragua Daniel Ortega gave a 50 year concession (with the flexibility to make it 100 years) to Chinese businessman Wang Jing to head the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development (HKND) in December 2014. The canal project is estimated to cost $40-$50 billion. It will measure 278 kilometers, compared to the Panama Canal which is currently the longest in the world at 77 kilometers. It will be twice as deep as the Panama Canal requiring the excavation of more than 4.5billion cubic meters of earth. The Nicaraguan Canal’s projected width is estimated to be around 230 to 520 meters.

Yet the project is aimed to take only five years, compared to the ten it took for the Panama Canal.

These numbers have been a huge cause for concern for environmentalists, scientists and Indigenous Nicaraguans since the plan’s announcement.

President Ortega and other supporters of the HKND profess its necessity, claiming that the initial 50,000 jobs created during construction and 200,000 upon its completion will be the driving force to raising Nicaragua out of severe poverty. The leader of Nicaragua’s National Agrarian University, Francisco Telemaco Talavera, supports the canal because of its potential to follow in the path of the Panama Canal by making Nicaragua into “the region’s powerhouse, with economic growth rates as high as 14% per year.”

However, the number of negative ramifications from the canal are vast and drastic.

Due to the range of the route and the immense amount of land it will cover, there is an outcry of injustice from the Indigenous communities that would be displaced by its construction. Many of the communities have been living on the land since before the Spanish conquest, and include Rama and Kriol people. The canal would bisect the two territories causing fragmentation, which at minimum could induce a loss of culture and belonging.

[Photo Credit: SCMP]

[Photo Credit: SCMP]

Before the HKND was decided upon and put on the table, there were no conversations held with the Indigenous communities, no Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC),  no thought to include them in the process, and there appears to be no sign that their rights will be taken into account.

Many of the affected Indigenous groups have presented their case to the Inter-American Commission Human Rights, with strong evidences of violations to Nicaraguan law, as well as international labor standards. Yet as the months progress, nothing seems to be in action to prevent these violations from taking place once canal construction starts.

What has been made clear by the Nicaraguan government is that anyone who is displaced by the canal construction will be compensated for their property based on its value as of June 2013. It seems that the most Indigenous communities can hope for in terms of justice is for higher rates of compensation – no movement is being considered for allowing them to stay on their land and not build the disastrous canal.

President of a Rama community, Carlos Billis, expressed his strong opposition for the canal: “It will destroy the nature that we are as much a part of as the trees that grow here and spread their seeds. The government wants to move us for a project that has nothing to do with us. There’s been no consultation, but they are going ahead regardless. This is discrimination against Indians, the same discrimination that’s been seen all over the world for so long.”

Other Indigenous leaders, such as Alan Claire of the Kriol Community, express the same opinion citing the legal and moral injustices of the plan. “This is an Indigenous area. By law, the government is supposed to ensure prior, free and informed consultation, but we haven’t been asked anything,” he tell Watts.

The government has claimed it feels secure against any campesino uprising once they learn of the generous compensations given to them. However, for many Indigenous people, the displacement itself is the heartbreak, not just the monetary concerns of having to adjust elsewhere.

Elizabeth Del Carmen is one such individual, whose family has seen generations live on the land and recently was told to shut down their project of building a chapel due to the canal development.

“I’ve been worrying about this because I don’t want to move to another place,” said Del Carmen. “We don’t agree with this bad treatment. They are making poor people feel uncomfortable. This place is safe. We all know each other here. Who knows where they are going to move us…We don’t want to leave.”

Indigenous peoples, as well as environmentalists all around the globe, are also greatly lamenting the ecological destruction the construction would wreak. The canal is planned to cut through nature reserves, significant wetlands that contribute to the biodiversity of the globe, Lake Nicaragua which is the largest freshwater lake in Central America, and the scenic beauty that is characteristic of the country.

Environmental assessments have been made by organizations such as the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation  and the International Society of Limnology, all citing the major negative effects the canal will have.

The lake will be compromised as the significant source of freshwater for irrigation, with harmful effects to the ecosystem due to pollution, traffic, noise, salinity, higher levels of torpidity and oxygen depletion.

[Photo Credit: www.transmiratours.com ]

[Photo Credit: www.transmiratours.com ]

There is also the constant risk of oil spills from cargo-carrying ships.

Other important wetlands and ecosystems will be upheaved as a result of the canal construction, and given the sheer size of the project, scientists are not hopeful for them to ever return to their original states.

The destruction of pristine land, displacement of peoples who have called the land home for centuries, and ecological depletion are some of the major reasons why the development for

the Nicaraguan Canal is a global catastrophe and warrants global awareness. With economic ambitions and major influential government powers driving this project into fruition, it is hard to see a way of halting the plan, but in order to protect Indigenous rights and culture, a ceasing of the canal’s construction is vital.

Mar27

Corporations and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Advancing the Struggle for Protection, Recognition, and Redress at the Third UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

Reposted from Cultural Survival Quarterly 39-1 Upholding Indigenous Rights Is Good Business (March 2015)

By Andrea Carmen

In 1990, the UN Global Consultation on the Right to Development declared that “the most destructive and prevalent abuses of Indigenous rights are the direct consequences of development strategies that fail to respect their fundamental right of self-determination.” Twenty-five years later, notwithstanding historic progress in the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the international arena (most notably the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), this statement still defines the reality for the majority of Indigenous Peoples.

2014business_forum_header

Today, the survival of Indigenous Peoples around the world continues to be threatened by corporate activity. This includes mining, oil drilling, damming, deforestation, toxic pesticides, proliferation by agribusiness, water privatization and appropriation, and a range of other activities carried out on or near Indigenous Peoples’ lands without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent. These activities are often undertaken in violation of legally binding treaties and agreements. They desecrate sacred places, undermine food sovereignty and traditional livelihoods, and jeopardize community and reproductive health with little regard for violations of these and other individual and collective human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and other Indigenous organizations are engaged in the work of Special Representative John Ruggie, who was appointed by the UN Secretary General “to identify and clarify standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights.” IITC has made several submissions urging the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples to ensure that their perspectives and experiences would be taken into account. IITC has also consistently underscored the vital importance of the Declaration as a framework for upholding Indigenous rights.

In June 2011 the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution unanimously endorsing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights implementing the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework proposed by Ruggie. This framework provided a global standard for preventing human rights impacts of business activity and providing remedies for victims. The Guiding Principles are organized under three pillars: the State’s duty to protect human rights; corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for greater access to remedy for victims of business-related abuse.

The UN Working Group

In addition to adopting the Guiding Principles, the Human Rights Council established a UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to carry out studies and oversee implementation at the country level. Along with issue-based studies and country visits, the Working Group organizes annual Human Rights and Business Forums where States, UN agencies, NGOs, and Indigenous Peoples review good (and bad) practices, present strategies for effective implementation, and highlight areas of ongoing concern.

The responsibility of States to be accountable for human rights violations caused by the corporations they license and the duty of corporations to respect human rights are relatively new and evolving human rights concepts. However, even before the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were adopted in 2011, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the treaty monitoring body for the international convention of the same name, affirmed that both Canada and the United States are obligated to prevent human rights violations in Indigenous communities around the world by corporations licensed in either country. The continued lack of compliance by the US with this recommendation from the Committee was addressed when the US was reviewed again in 2013. The Committee made similar observations addressing the responsibility of Canada, in particular regarding the activities of Canadian mining companies carrying out activities that violated the rights of Indigenous Peoples outside the country in both 2007 and 2012.

Indigenous Peoples’ Participation in UN Forums on Business and Human Rights

From its first session in 2012, the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights has recognized that Indigenous Peoples around the world suffer from adverse impacts of corporate activity resulting in violation of a wide range of their individual and collective rights. At all three sessions of the Forum to date, Indigenous Peoples have been a key focus, although there is still no formal mechanism or permanent agenda item, as requested by Indigenous Peoples, to ensure their formal participation and full inclusion in future sessions. Chief Wilton Littlechild, Chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples addressed the first session in 2012, and the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, were panelists at the second and third sessions. One of the Working Group’s first activities was a groundbreaking study exploring the challenges faced in addressing “adverse impacts of business-related activities on the rights of Indigenous Peoples through the lens of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

Specific concerns raised by IITC at the third Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights held December 1–3, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, focused on the continued production and export by US corporations of highly restricted and unregulated pesticides banned for use in the US. This practice, permitted by current US laws, has had devastating, well-documented human rights consequences, including undermining reproductive health and causing over 25 documented deaths in Yaqui Indian communities in northern Mexico. IITC presented this concern in a side event organized by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and was invited to submit this issue for the Committee’s country review of Mexico in May 2015.

The United States’ National Action Plan

A key mechanism for implementation and a central focus of discussion at the most recent Forum is the development of National Action Plans by UN member states to promote implementation of the Guiding Principles. On January 14, IITC sent a written contribution to the US State Department for the development of its own National Action Plan, which was announced by President Obama in September 2014. It is targeted for completion, after a series of consultations around the country, by the end of 2015. The first consultation was held in New York City on December 15; upcoming sessions are planned for Oklahoma, California, and Washington, D.C. in February and March 2015.

IITC’s submission followed up on issues raised during reviews of the US in 2014 highlighting corporate activities impacting the rights of Indigenous Peoples in and out of the country. These include laws allowing the manufacture and export of pesticides from the US that have been banned or deregulated in the US; violations resulting from corporate activities that cause the destruction, desecration, and contamination of Indigenous Peoples’ sacred and ceremonial sites, areas, and landscapes, including many located on what are now federal lands and in areas recognized as belonging to Indigenous nations under their ratified Treaties with the US; and lack of US compliance and implementation of the provisions and rights affirmed in its human rights obligations and commitments.

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

AThe Outcome Document of the High Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly, also known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, further underscored UN member states’ commitments to uphold the rights affirmed in the Declaration. The Outcome Document adopted on September 22, 2014, included a commitment to the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent related to development activities. Based on the UN Guiding Principles Business and Human Rights, as well as the Concluding Observations of UN Treaty Bodies and the commitments made by States (including the US) in the outcome document, IITC made several recommendations to the US State Department urging the use of rights affirmed in the Declaration, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

IITC also urged that the national action plan affirm the rights contained in the World Conference outcome document to Free, Prior and Informed Consent; that the plan uphold the rights affirmed in the nation-to-nation treaties it concluded with Indigenous nations to interpret and guide its implementation of the UN Principles on Human Rights and Business; that it incorporate and implement the recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treaty bodies with regard to the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ sacred areas, sites, and landscapes; and that it include a commitment to take immediate steps to halt the production and export of pesticides and other toxic chemicals that have been banned for use in the United States.

Although these recommendations are directed specifically to the US, similar recommendations can be made to other member states where corporate and business activities impact the rights and survival of Indigenous Peoples. The devastating effects of business and corporate activities upon the rights of Indigenous Peoples, their health, lands and territories, cultures, and ways of life, cannot be minimized. Neither can the responsibility or accountability of member states.

Read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights here: goo.gl/vAQgf4.

Andrea Carmen is the executive director of International Indian Treaty Council, an Indigenous Peoples organization with General Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.

Mar24

Indigenous Workshop: “Shareholder Advocacy & Leadership Training”

First Peoples Worldwide will hold a “Shareholder Advocacy and Leadership Training” Workshop for Indigenous Peoples facing corporate development at this year’s UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Please see the flyer below for details, and we hope you can join us!

Unfortunately, First Peoples Worldwide is unable to provide travel expenses or travel document assistance for this event.

UNPFII Leadership Workshop Invite

Feb27

How We Make Progress, How We Have Change: Rebecca Adamson

Reposted from the Cultural Survival Quarterly

By Agnes Portalewska

about-us-pic2

Her voice reflects her passion. Her work reflects her commitment. Her legacy is an inspiration for many. Rebecca Adamson (Cherokee) is a businessperson and Indigenous rights advocate. She is the former director, president, and founder of First Nations Development Institute and the founder of First Peoples Worldwide. Born to a Swedish-American father and a Cherokee mother, Adamson grew up in Akron, Ohio and spent summers with her Cherokee grandmother in North Carolina. Reflecting on these early years, she says, “My journey and my vision has been driven by knowing we could solve our own problems and really wanting to listen to the ways our cultures helped us and supported our problem solving.”

Early in her career Adamson was hired by the coalition of five Indian Controlled Schools in the country. As she tells it, “the schools sued [then-President] Nixon to release the Title IV Indian Education funds. Title IV provided funds for parental involvement, among other things.” With the release of that money, the Coalition of Indian Controlled Schools were able to help tribes start their own schools. “All of this dovetailed into the Indian Education Self Determination Act. After they won and then they hired me, and I got to work in our communities, and it was amazing.” She also worked to get the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 passed, giving tribes authority for how they administered the funds.

Adamson’s background was in philosophy, a field she entered with “an undying belief that as Indigenous Peoples, we needed our own models. People constantly look at our systems and they talk about them being quaint. We get pushed back on two things: one is that the principles that I call ‘fundamental design principles’ are called romantic notions in Western thinking. But then they get caught up thinking that we’re saying individual Indians are better than individual Westerners. Both of those are just wrong. We [have] built systems that actually incentivize the good behavior.”

Later, as she pursued a graduate degree in economics and “began really looking into the finances of it,” she says, “what really hit me was how all the models that we were taking out into our communities carried Western values—they weren’t our values. So I thought if we had a development process that really listened and brought the technical and the resources together with the brilliant thinking and problemsolving of Indigenous peoples, we would get new models.” This is how the idea for First Nations Development Institute was born in 1980.

Initially, the primary purpose of First Nations Development Institute was to create a development process for Native people to do their own problem solving. The Institute created the land consolidation model, the tribal investment model, marketing, arts, food sovereignty, traditional food processes, agriculture, and the first micro-loan fund in the United States. The first 15 years were devoted to exploring Indigenous economics domestically, and the Institute began global outreach in 1994. Their first international field project grew into First Peoples Worldwide.

Since 2007, First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund has awarded nearly $1.5 million to Indigenous communities around the world representing 427 Indigenous groups in 53 countries. “Making that international transition has been extremely rewarding,” Adamson says. “It is magnitudes more difficult, more violent, and more discriminatory internationally, with what other Indigenous groups are facing. The grants are really what bring the energy and excitement and the heartbeat into our work.” She adds that the fund has supported projects that are “really struggling in dealing with huge global corporations and the pressure of being surrounded by the extractive industries and the governments that want the resources. In those cases we may be the only funder out there that is funding our communities to make their own decisions. One-third of our grantmaking portfolio had never had funding before. So we’re building those links back up to national and international groups so that we build that political machinery, bit by bit.”

For Adamson, getting corporations and governments to respect Indigenous rights requires a multipronged approach. “In the long run I think the activist groups keep the heat on. Social media has absolutely been bringing attention to it. If corporations want to manage by headlines, we’ve got to get them headlines. The activist groups are doing good work on that. Legal and rights groups are trying to get legal precedents set. What hasn’t really been approached in all this is the market. That’s why First Peoples Worldwide did the Indigenous Rights Risk Report (see page 14), to try to get one more strategic tool out there that we could all use. I think it really will bring more power and augment what we’ve already got underway,” she says.

Forward progress, however, isn’t always linear: “We don’t have a silver bullet anywhere. We could win a court case and the government decides not to uphold it. We could win an activist and media campaign, and as soon as the headlines die down they turn around and do it again. We make progress and then we slide back. [But] that is how we make progress and that is how we have change. “

After concluding its risk assessment of US-based extractive companies, First Peoples Worldwide is now turning its attention to Canada; Adamson estimates that about 70 percent of the global equity capital financing oil, gas, and mining comes from the Canadian exchange. “What we hope to do is bring the Indigenous groups in areas where we’re researching together with the other groups in the areas we’ve already researched. That’s the idea, to really start sharing this information among ourselves,” she says.

To aid in this information sharing, First Peoples Worldwide is currently developing curriculum on shareholder advocacy and planning to organize Indigenous shareholder advocacy leadership training centers in Indigenous areas where resource extraction is rampant. “We are organizing these centers so that our people in those places have the accountability they need to really negotiate and control their destinies with these corporations and with the government,” she explains.

Getting resources and information to the grassroots is a must for Adamson. “Real successes have been primarily [achieved] by us, by Indigenous people. We’ve got thousands of grassroots groups out there, and we need to be able to link them with the international and national groups. We have an ability to build the political machinery globally that we need to achieve change. We need more local capacity. Funders right now tend to build somebody else’s capacity, to study us, to work for us, to be an intermediary with us, but never fund us.” She cites the adoption of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as a prime example: “We saw hundreds of thousands of dollars going out to non-Indigenous groups to do FPIC studies. The Indigenous groups are the ones having to figure out how to implement it, and yet all of the resources went to other folks to study us in doing it.”

Adamson believes that Canada, at the epicenter of so many protests and recent controversies around FPIC and Indigenous rights, “is really the microcosm of all of this. What the First Nations have made [Prime Minister] Harper’s administration understand is they can stop his resource development agenda.” She also points to the Amazon region, which “has had the lowest bids on concessions in its history,” a cause she attributes directly to protests and work stoppages. “We can stop the production and the extraction of these resources and get heard, but it’s a path that could lead to violence, which in many cases has been a struggle for our lives,” she says.

As the First Peoples’ risk report illustrates, in-country risk is one of the biggest drivers of corporate risk. “Corporations want to go to where there’s the least risk, and if it’s working with us, we can be at the table directing the government to title our land, uphold our rights,” Adamson says. “We are finding out through the risk report that it’s good business when countries uphold Indigenous rights. My hope is that we can get the results into the market quicker; that we can prove that countries that want economic performance have to uphold our rights to get it, and companies that want profit have to uphold our rights to get the profit. We’ve got to get that message out more and more.”

Cultural Survival helps Indigenous Peoples around the world defend their lands, languages, and cultures as they deal with issues like the one you’ve just read about. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.

Jan05

World Bank Incentivizes Governments to Violate UNDRIP

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticized the World Bank’s draft Safeguard Policies for “going out of their way to avoid any meaningful references to human rights.” Among its criticisms is the fact that the safeguards now require Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) from Indigenous Peoples, but “it is not clear whether the processes prescribed…to obtain such consent meet the standards required by international human rights laws.” Furthermore, the safeguards enable borrowers to “opt out” of the FPIC requirement, ostensibly to “facilitate projects in countries where the existence or the notion of Indigenous Peoples is contested. However, the ability of borrower countries to effectively choose whether or not to recognize Indigenous Peoples appears incompatible with the fundamental purpose of UNDRIP…[and] may also undermine progress achieved in recognizing and implementing the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples in certain regions of the world.”

By proposing weaker lending criteria for countries that do not recognize Indigenous Peoples, the Bank is incentivizing governments to violate UNDRIP. This has serious consequences not only for Indigenous Peoples, but for companies with investments in emerging markets, as the Indigenous Rights Risk Report demonstrates an unmistakable correlation between Country Risk and risk to the private sector.

 

This post is excerpted from First Peoples Worldwide’s Corporate Monitor, a monthly report on key trends affecting companies interacting with Indigenous Peoples. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.

Dec26

A Too Common Occurrence: Maasai Land Theft by Safari Company in Northern Tanzania

Reposted from the Cultural Survival Quarterly, 38-4 Indigenous Rights Protect Us All (December 2014)

Cattle in disputed land [photo credit: Cultural Survival]

Cattle in disputed land [photo credit: Cultural Survival]

The expansive landscapes and large wildlife populations of Ngorongoro District in Northern Tanzania, which borders Serengeti National Park, make it a leading area for Tanzania’s tourism industry. But the scenic beauty and pastoral ideal belie a much more complex and conflict ridden reality. For the land and the Maasai who have traditionally inhabited it, the past hundred years have been characterized by marginalization and loss. The story of Sukenya Farm is just one such example.

The Beginning: Sukenya Farm

Soitsambu, Sukenya, and Mondorosi villages are located in Loliondo Division, Ngorongoro District, and are predominantly Maasai pastoralist communities. Land is managed according to seasonal patterns of resource availability, which are largely dependent on rainfall and governed by rotational grazing reserve systems. In 1984 Tanzania Breweries Ltd. (TBL) obtained 10,000 acres within the boundaries of Mondorosi and Sukenya villages, a property that came to be known known as Sukenya Farm. During this period, fraudulent land allocations were widespread throughout northern Tanzania and in Loliondo in particular. While TBL apparently obtained dispensation from the district and regional government to use the land, it did not obtain an official certificate of occupancy until 2004. This was for an increased area of 12,617 acres.

From the outset TBL only used about 700 acres, and in 1987 abandoned the land altogether. The three resident Maasai clans, the Purko (residents of Mondorosi), Loita (a minority clan in in Sukenya), and Laitayok (the majority of residents in Sukenya but a minority clan in the region) continued using the property as they always had: for season livestock pasture, critical watering points, temporary settlement during the rainy season, and access between subvillages.

The Conflict

The 2004 certificate awarded control of the land to TBL with a 99-year lease agreement backdated to October 2003. One of the conditions of the title was that the land be used for “plant and animal husbandry.” In 2006 TBL divested the remaining 96-year lease to a new American-owned tourism operation, Tanzania Conservation Ltd (TCL). Tanzania Conservation’s owners also own Thomson Safaris, a Massachusetts-based company that operates luxury tours on the disputed property, which it has developed into a private nature reserve known as Enashiva Nature Refuge.

According to the lawsuit brought in Tanzania by the affected villages, company security guards and police officers forcefully evicted the Maasai from the land, burning their bomas (livestock enclosures), destroying homes, and denying them access to the land. Since TBL had abandoned the land in question for more than 12 years, it should have reverted back to the local villagers. A Ngorongoro Conservation Area councilor commented, “We are like slaves in our own land. Natural resources have become like a curse to us; those benefiting are from afar while the real owners are suffering.’’ Said another: “The entire process of land acquisition is characterized by bribing, cheating, and dividing communities.”

With the access to Sukenya Farm prevented by TCL/Thomson Safaris, the communities’ herders were forced to make a 14-hour return trip to Kenya for water in the dry season. In addition, they lost access to a valuable grazing resource. Prohibiting community access to the land created a major conflict among the company, local government, and the villagers, the majority of whom consider that the land is still rightfully theirs to use.

Rising Tensions

The level of conflict between TCL/Thomson Safaris and local residents has markedly escalated in the last few years with numerous arrests and imprisonments, a shooting incident, and other alleged misconduct by the company’s employees and the police. Local civil society organizations and concerned individuals have attempted to help resolve the conflict, but thus far these attempts have failed, only increasing tension and mistrust.

In 2011 Soitsambu village sought to challenge TCL/Thomson Safaris’ right to the land with the support of Minority Rights Group International, the Legal and Human Rights Centre, and the Pastoral Women’s Council. While initially dismissed on a technicality, the case recommenced in 2013 and is due to be heard in mid-December. The villagers, assisted by EarthRights International, also petitioned US courts to obtain documents of the sale to support their Tanzanian court fight to recover their land, as well as damages for violent abuses and property destruction. “The land belongs to us whether we win the case or not. We have to use the land. We will never give up,” one community member said.

Maasai traditional leaders from across Ngorongoro district have gathered several times since 2013 in Sukenya village to discuss the conflict. One resolution was a strengthened collaboration among the three affected clans, which to date are still working together. Another was to ensure that the district council strongly support villages in the land fight. “We cannot keep quiet while our land is under the hands of land grabbers. It is our responsibility to see that land comes back at any cost,’’ said a council chairman.

An Uneasy Truce

In July 2014, herdsman Olunjai Timan was returning home from grazing his cattle near the disputed land when he was confronted by policemen and local TCL/Thomson Safari security guards. He was shot and left lying face down, alone. As news of the shooting spread through the villages 300 youth gathered in the night, prepared to enter the disputed land and burn the safari camp down. When elders heard the news they rushed to the stop them. They decided to pursue peaceful means instead of a confrontational approach, but the incident prompted the question, “What type of government is this that attacks its own citizens?”

At a council meeting after the shooting, a traditional leader implored the District Council: “I decided to stop my warriors from burning the camp because I want peace. There is no benefit for anyone to die now. We need this land for our cows and we can’t stop grazing or passing. Who are the legal owners? Those with only a piece of paper, or us who are born and living here for years?” Added a council member from Mondorosi, “We have just finished paying fines for the innocent herders who were told they trespassed in our land, and today one of us is shot again. We have to fight back and there is no way to keep quiet.” Echoing the sentiment, a youth leader averred, “We, the Maasai, are not those of 1959 when our grandfathers signed to be moved out of Serengeti. We will fight to the end. We will keep fighting for our land and rights.”

An uneasy truce has been reached between the villagers and Thomson Safari, as villagers are currently allowed to access the disputed land for grazing. They are wary that this permission may be removed at will, but hopeful that the upcoming hearing will turn that permission into a right, with ownership of the land finally returning to them.


 

In Tanzania

The most recent Tanzanian litigation commenced in 2013 by Soitsambu, Mondorosi, and Sukenya villages against Tanzania Breweries Ltd., Tanzania Conservation Ltd., the District Council, and the Commissioner for Lands. The villages are challenging the transfer of Sukenya Farm by TBL to TCL/Thomson Safaris, land that had been abandoned for over 17 years and continually used during that time by villagers for grazing, watering, and cultural rituals. The plaintiffs contend that ownership of the land reverted back to the villagers by adverse possession, that TBL had no right to transfer its certificate of occupancy, and that TCL/Thomson Safaris is therefore an illegal occupant. The villagers are seeking the revocation of TCL/Thomson Safaris’ certificate of occupancy and a claim for damages for the illegal occupation.

In Massachusetts

In February 2014, the Soitsambu, Mondorosi, and Sukenya village chairmen, assisted by EarthRights International, petitioned a federal court in Massachusetts for documents and testimony to support their fight in Tanzanian courts to recover lost land and damages for violent abuses and property destruction. The federal court granted the villagers’ application in April, ordering TCL/Thomson Safaris and the companies’ owners, Rick Thomson and Judi Wineland, to turn over documents and give sworn testimony about the sale of Sukenya Farm, the alleged home burnings and beatings, and the conversion of the land from Maasai grazing territory to a private reserve.

 

Cultural Survival helps Indigenous Peoples around the world defend their lands, languages, and cultures as they deal with issues like the one you’ve just read about.