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Monday, November 16 • 16:00 - 17:15
Preventing abuses of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the business context: a key issue for responsible business and sustainable development

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Session organized by International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs; Forest Peoples Programme, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Peace Brigades International (PBI), Indigenous Peoples Rights International, Oxfam and Indigenous Peoples’ Center for Documentation (DOCIP), in collaboration with the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Interpretation in English, French and Spanish available

Brief description of the session

The session will highlight the drivers and root causes of business-related abuses of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and will reflect on what is needed in order to achieve real change on the ground.
It will reflect on the effects of the pandemic to indigenous peoples, local communities and Afro-descendants including the roll-back of rights in many country contexts, the increased intimidation and attacks on human rights defenders and the disproportionate impact on indigenous women. The roundtable will focus on the prevention of abuses to Indigenous Peoples rights, as set out in the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) including Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), an international human rights standard that emerges from the right of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, as well as to their land, territories and resources. Under international law, Governments and businesses alike have the duty to protect and respect the rights of indigenous peoples, as well the responsibility to ensure appropriate remedy for past and continuing violations. During the discussion, we will also examine how Indigenous Peoples are increasingly developing their own FPIC protocols. These provide guidance to States and businesses on how Indigenous Peoples in that particular context and community want to be consulted with, as per their rights to self-determination and customary decision-making practices. States and businesses must respect these protocols . These protocols reflect the community's identity, culture, ways of life and the interconnection of land, peoples and nature . They highlight the central importance of respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including their self-determination right to decide their own plans, priorities and visions for their futures and the related right of communities to make decisions on externally proposed projects in or near their territories.

Key objectives of the session
• Highlight cases from the ground where Indigenous Peoples rights are not respected, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, and identify factors for an enabling environment for respecting indigenous peoples’ rights;
• Raise awareness about the existence, scope and processes for realising the right to FPIC consistent with the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the indigenous peoples concerned;
• Explore how States can more effectively protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and indigenous defenders;
• Explore how business could further conduct human rights due diligence to prevent Indigenous Peoples rights abuse, especially in the context of the exercise of their rights to land and natural resources.

Background to the discussion

Despite international and national regulatory frameworks, as well as voluntary frameworks adopted by businesses, abuses of the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and Afro-descendants are systemic in the agricultural and mining sectors as well as other business sectors. Attempts to boost the economy and recovery during Covid-19 has seen the roll-back of rights in many country contexts. This has resulted both in the manifestation of new human rights violations, aggravated existing human rights abuses suffered by indigenous peoples, and has disproportionately affected women.

Impacts experienced by indigenous peoples during the pandemic have been wide-ranging, such as increased land grabs, restrictions in accessing their customary lands, territories and resources, and continued disregard for their rights to self-determination and self-governance. This has led to increased food insecurity, loss of livelihoods and an abhorrent increase in intimidation, criminalisation, violence and killings of human rights, land and environmental defenders. These abuses further threaten indigenous peoples’ right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations.

Indigenous peoples around the world have already responded to the pandemic by using their self-determined protection mechanisms, traditional medicine, control of their territory, and have taken advanced measures to seal off their villages or to retreat further into nature to avoid contact. However, not all indigenous peoples are able to draw on their collective protection mechanisms because they do not have their customary rights to their lands, territories and resources respected by states or businesses. Restriction of movement and the increased presence of private security forces, police and the army have escalated tensions, fear of and occurrences of attacks against human rights defenders.

Additional background documents

avatar for Dante Pesce

Dante Pesce

Director, Center Vincular, Catholic University of Valparaiso
Dante Pesce studied History and Political Science at the Catholic University of Chile and Public Administration at Harvard University. Grassroots community organizer during the 90´s and from 2001 onwards, Founder and Executive Director of Vincular Center at the Business School of... Read More →

Monday November 16, 2020 16:00 - 17:15 CET
Plenary Room