Statement to UN Permanent Forum by the European Network on Indigenous Peoples


22 May 2014

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Thirteenth Session
New York, 12-23 May 2014

Agenda Item 9: Future work of the Permanent Forum, including emerging issues

Statement delivered by Oda Almas on behalf of the European Network on Indigenous Peoples (ENIP)

I make this statement on behalf of the European Network on Indigenous Peoples (ENIP), a consortium of European-based support and solidarity organisations working for the realization of indigenous peoples’ rights. ENIP was established in May 2013, to jointly promote the rights of indigenous peoples as they are affected by Europe. Our members currently include the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), Almaciga, Indigenous Peoples’ Links (PIPLinks) and Institute for Ecology and Action Anthropology (INFOE). We see out goal as ensuring that all European actors fulfil, respect and protect the rights of indigenous peoples globally.

We are mindful of the role played by European based, or financed, transnational corporations operating on the lands and territories of indigenous peoples, and the human rights violations that are often associated with those companies. We are aware that these abuses can happen with minimal rights of redress in the host countries of those companies, and indeed possibly with the tacit support of the host governments. We note that the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recommended at least two European countries – Norway and the United Kingdom – to take appropriate legislative or administrative measures to prevent acts of transnational corporations registered in those countries which negatively impact on the enjoyment of the rights of indigenous peoples extra-territorially, and to ensure that they are held to account.

Our position as ENIP is – in line with the UN Guiding Principles – that all actors, including third parties such as transnational corporations, should respect the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples including their rights to self-determination and rights on lands, territories and resources and respect for the derived rights to consultation and free, prior and informed consent.

The United Nations has taken an increasing interest in the issue of business and human rights, particularly after the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles and the establishment of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. We note that, at least partly thanks to the presence of Pavel Sulyandziga as a member of the Working Group, that the issue of indigenous peoples has become a focus of the Working Group, including the theme of the August 2013 report of the Working Group to the General Assembly (paper A/68/279) which elaborated on indigenous peoples and the Guiding Principles. At the December 2013 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights indigenous peoples were able to organise a specific caucus meeting, in parallel to States, business and civil society organisations. We encourage indigenous organisations to get involved to ensure these mechanisms are used to guarantee full respect for their rights in this context.

Given the perceived need for coherence between UN human rights mechanisms, we have been working with Mr Sulyandziga, and various indigenous organisations to create a joint plan of work to promote the human rights of indigenous peoples with regard to business, which includes an objective to facilitate and promote an interactive dialogue between the UN special mechanisms on indigenous peoples, indigenous representatives and the UN Working Group. This would be specifically on the Guiding Principles and their implementation in an indigenous peoples’ rights context. We would welcome discussing this proposal with indigenous organisations, and the relevant human rights mechanisms.

We would like to make the following recommendations:-

The Permanent Forum explore opportunities to provide guidance to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, with regard to the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles

The Permanent Forum should be actively involved in meetings between indigenous peoples, other UN human rights mechanisms and UN Working Group on the implementation of the Guiding Principles in the context of indigenous peoples immediately prior to the annual Forum on Business and Human Rights

The Permanent Forum to recommend to the Human Rights Council that it support the full implementation of the Guiding Principles by all actors, with reference to the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples where indigenous peoples are involved. This should ensure the elaboration and implementation of adequate binding measures to end with human rights violations derived from business activities, and ensure effective access to remedy.