Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues Every Week - News

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues For The Week Of August 4 - 10, 2011: United States, International, Australia, India, Laos


United States: Indian Tribes, Climate-Induced Weather Extremes, And The Future For Indian Country


In collaboration with the Tribal Lands Program, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, National Congress of American Indians, Native American Fish & Wildlife Society, National Tribal Environmental Council, Native American Rights Fund, and University of Colorado Law School, the National Wildlife Federation released Indian Tribes, Climate-Induced Weather Extremes, and the Future for Indian Country. The report details how climate change is adversely and disproportionately affecting Indian Tribes in North America, people who rely on a healthy environment to sustain their economic, cultural and spiritual lives.


“The Indian Nations face profound challenges to their cultures, economies and livelihoods, because of climate change,” said Jose Aguto, policy advisor on Climate Change for the National Congress of American Indians. “Yet tribal peoples possess valuable knowledge and practices of their ecosystems that are resilient and cost-effective methods to address climate change impacts, for the benefit of all peoples. This study is a clear call for the Administration, Congress, state and local governments, and all peoples, to support and join tribal efforts to stem climate change.” Read more about the report on climate change and Indian country here....


International: Aid Group Lauds New World Bank Policies On Indigenous Rights And Oil Mining Transparency


Oxfam commends the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private sector lending arm, for improving policies that will increase protection of indigenous communities affected by development as well as transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors. After spending 18 months consulting nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, companies and others, IFC released last week its new Sustainability Framework.


The Framework— a set of policies outlining IFC’s responsibilities and requirements for companies that receive loans for development projects—now requires IFC clients to secure the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of indigenous communities prior to launching development activities expected to generate adverse impacts on their lands and natural resources. “The IFC has been widely criticized for funding socially and environmentally risky projects that, in some cases, have had negative impacts on local communities, but IFC’s efforts to improve its lending policies are a step in the right direction ” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “Although we would have liked to see stronger human rights language in the policies, we hope that the IFC’s new requirements on community consent and transparency will raise the bar for better social and environmental performance and set a precedent for international financial institutions, export credit agencies, companies, and governments to follow.” Read more about the International Finance Corporation's new policy on FPIC here....


Australia: 'The Land Holds Us:' Aboriginal Peoples' Right To Traditional Homelands In The Northern Territory


All Indigenous Peoples have the fundamental human right to their traditional lands. For Aboriginal Peoples of Australia, this connection to traditional lands or ‘country’ is of central importance to identity and culture. This report documents the efforts of the Alyawarr and Anmatyerr Peoples of the Utopia homelands in Central Australia to live a healthy life on their homelands, despite a series of legislative and policy changes made at a national, state, territory and local level over the last decade that have been detrimental to the rights of Aboriginal Peoples to live on their ancestral lands.


These policy initiatives fall below international human rights standards, in particular the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Central to the declaration are the rights of Indigenous Peoples to own, live on and develop their lands; to consultation and free, prior and informed consent; and to culture. The themes of land, culture, and informed consent are the subject of this report. Download the entire report here (.pdf) External link.


India: Kandha Tribe Families Confront Serious Food Insecurity After The Forest Officials Demolished Their Houses In Orissa


ISSUES: Right to land; right to food; rights of indigenous people; right to housing


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received the information from ANTODAYA, a human rights group working in the Kalahandi district of Orissa that in October 2010, forest department officials from Taljaring Beat demolished the houses of twelve families of the Kandha tribe who were living in Hardaguda village. The officials came all of sudden without any prior notice and demolished the houses. They also dragged the women out of the houses using abusive words against them. The officials said that the Kandha stayed in reserved forests, which is illegal. However, the Kandha’s ancestors had settled in the village early 1920s cultivating land and the families had to move to other villages to avoid attacks from wild animals at that time. In 2002, the families returned to their home village, seeking livelihood, but no public facilities and benefits have been provided for the families. After demolition, the families have been deprived of their right to food and houses addition to lack of health and education facilities. The local human rights groups help the families to reconstruct their houses and the administration pay attention to the families. Yet, the families have not obtained titles to the land in accordance with the Forest (rights) Act 2006. No action was taken against the forest officials who destroyed the Kandha’s property without proper due process violating the Kandha’s fundamental rights. Read more about the Kandha tribe and food insecurity here....


Laos: Illegal Construction On The Xayaburi Dam Forges Ahead


Lao PDR Unilaterally Moves Forward In Spite of Commitments to Temporarily Suspend the Project


A field visit to the site of the proposed Xayaburi Dam has revealed that construction on the dam's access road and work-camp is rapidly forging ahead, in spite of commitments by the Government of Laos to temporarily suspend the project. The trip to the Xayaburi Dam site on July 23rd revealed that a substantial construction camp has been established near Ban Talan village with at least a few hundred workers. An access road leading down to the dam site was also under construction and some land has been cleared without compensation provided to the owners.


"The Government of Laos appears to be set on unilaterally moving forward with the Xayaburi Dam in violation of international law and its commitments under the 1995 Mekong Agreement," said Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Program Director for International Rivers. "By building this dam, Laos is disregarding its regional commitments and robbing the future of millions of people in the region who rely upon the river for their livelihood and food security." Read more about the illegal construction of the Xayaburi Dam here....


Last Weeks Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues can be found here.

Tags: United States  Australia  India  Laos  

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