|Photo by Ben Powless, Mohawk|
May 16th to May 27th, 2011
UN Headquarters, New York, NY
The principles and rights of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent are vital to upholding the human rights and fundamental and inherent right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples in North America and throughout the world. FPIC is a basic underpinning of Indigenous Peoples’ ability to conclude and implement valid treaties and agreements, to have sovereignty over and protection of our lands, waters, air, and natural resources, and to develop and participate in processes that redress violations of our land, water and treaty rights.
FPIC must immediately be implemented at all levels as the right of our Indigenous Nations and communities to be thoroughly informed about any development affecting our lands and resources, particularly in connection with our environment, forests, minerals, air, water – both freshwater, our oceans and our sea ice and any development affecting our intellectual knowledge, the human health of our women and families, and any development involving genetic manipulation that could have affect on our security, balance and well-being.
FPIC is more than mere consultation. Related to development, governments, financial institutions such as the World Bank, and corporations frequently achieve their version of a FPIC standard through the policy of consultation. But consultation, on its own, does not constitute FPIC. Consultation is not equivalent to consent. Indigenous Peoples have to right to say no.
Our network of Indigenous Peoples is based in the United States, with affiliates in Canada. I do not have time to list the hundreds of western forms of industrial development involving the devastation and degradation of indigenous territories from mining and mineral extraction. Our Indigenous network, as an example of a few Indigenous Nations and organizations negatively affected by unsustainable energy and mineral extraction are the Lipan Apache Women Defense; the San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona; the Lipan Apache Band of Texas; the Navajo Nation Dependents of Uranium Workers (Dine’ Nation); and in Canadian, the Dene, Cree and Metis peoples fighting the Canadian Tar Sands as the largest construction project ever in the history of mankind, more earth has been moved since its beginning then the Suez Canal, the Great Pyramids and the Great Wall of China. If the rights of FPIC were legislated domestically, these devastations would not be happening.
The standards, policy and right of FPIC and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) must be immediately implemented at every level of government, within financial institutions, and in decision-making bodies within the United States and Canada and throughout the world where Indigenous Peoples live.
Madam Chair, my concluding point and recommendation is on the matter of the climate crisis. The policy and rights of FPIC are not being recognized with the danger of not being implemented in UN climate mitigation and adaptation policy. One of the key area of climate mitigation is a carbon market regime consisting of emissions-carbon trading and offset projects with no guarantees for adequate nor enforceable safeguards. Therefore, we recommend the appointment of a member of the Permanent Forum as Special Rapporteur to conduct a study on existing and potential violations of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples affected by carbon markets, the Clean Development Mechanism and REDD-type projects (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), and to report thereon to the Forum at its eleventh session, in 2012.