Asia Indigenous Peoples reject industries that overpower their autonomous development

Servindi, May 6th, 2014. A regional meeting of indigenous peoples in Asia rejected the development of extractive and destructive industries that overpower their autonomy. The meeting included participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal and The Philippines.

The Asia Regional Indigenous Peoples’ Workshop on Extractive Industries, Energy and Human Rights was organized by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Philippine Task Force on Indigenous Peoples (TFIP), Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA), Asia Indigenous Peoples Network on Extractive Industries and Energy (AIPNEE) and Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders Network (IPHRD).

A declaration from the workshop was signed on April 22 in Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines. The text demanded that all licenses, permits, concessions and other agreements taken by the States should be reviewed or revoked.

It also called on international financial institutions to stop supporting the extractive industries and energy projects, plantations and other enterprises that destroy the lands, resources and cultural identityes of indigenous peoples.

The statement demanded that free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities should be ensured as a prerequisite before providing any funding for projects on their lands.

Full text of the statement:

Asia Regional Indigenous Peoples’ Workshop Declaration: Advance the Right to Self Determined Development of Indigenous Peoples!

We, 68 participants of the ASIA REGIONAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ WORKSHOP ON EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES, ENERGY AND HUMAN RIGHTS, held in Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines on April 20-22, 2014; representing 54 indigenous peoples organizations and advocate groups in Asia, Pacific, Africa, South America and USA; hereby declare our position in relation to the encroachment of extractive industries and energy projects in indigenous peoples’ territories.

We are concerned with the aggressive pursuance of neoliberal globalization, whereby indigenous peoples’ land, lives, territories and resources are increasingly privatized and liberalized. The current development model undermines indigenous peoples’ sustainable way of life based on our deep respect, care, and inseparable relationship with Mother Earth. The overwhelming focus on private sector-led development and Public Private Partnership in the exploitation of territories and lands, forest, water, aerial and energy resources will further undermine indigenous peoples’ culture, tradition, identity and human rights.

With Asia becoming the new economic hub, we have witnessed the massive exploitation of our lands and resources in the name of development. Mining, hydropower dams, large scale plantations, oil exploration, geothermal projects, economic land concessions, special economic zones and economic transformation programs, imposition of commercial agriculture dependent on agrochemicals, security zones such as ESSCOM in Malaysia and national parks and other conservation projects are just among the many projects being imposed in our territories without our Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and without recognition of our right to self determination. Food insecurity, pollution, displacement, destruction of sacred sites, militarization, health hazards, trafficking of and violence against indigenous women and girls as well as violations to our civil and political rights are among the many violations we are experiencing.

Furthermore, the current regional cooperation funded by international financial institutions, coursed through governments and regional economic cooperation among governments such as the ASEAN and SAARC with an aim to promote free trade among countries, is increasing our vulnerability and marginalization. A case in point is the power grid, roads and railways being constructed connecting Asian countries in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Integration being planned for 2015.

Another issue we face is the peace processes, where our life, identity, sovereignty, land and resources are at stake. This is evident in our misrepresentation/nonrepresentation of current peace processes in Mindanao, Philippines, India, and Bangladesh and among the ethnic nationalities in Myanmar, in which our full and effective participation is not ensured and our peace processes not respected and not implemented particularly in Northeast India and Bangladesh. These crucial issues have driven us to wage struggles and movements for our right to self-determination and self-determined development against unsustainable development processes. At the same time, we promote our development alternatives, based on respect and protection of our lands, territories and resources, cultural integrity and empowerment, social and economic well-being of indigenous peoples, sustainable resource management, and self-governance through our customary institutions.

In the light of the alarming situation in Asia and our enduring struggles to defend our rights as indigenous peoples, we forward the following key recommendations for urgent and appropriate action by those concerned:

For governments in Asia:

1. Stop destructive extractive industries, energy projects, economic land concessions, mono-crop plantations and other intrusions into our ancestral territories. Review and revoke licenses, permits, concessions and other agreements issued for projects that have been found to be detrimental to the interests of indigenous peoples.

2. Ensure our constitutional recognition as indigenous peoples and our inherent rights as affirmed by the UNDRIP. Review national legal frameworks, and enact legislations and formulate policies consistent with the UNDRIP, and ensure their proper implementation. Repeal/amend legislations violating indigenous peoples rights.

3. Recognize and respect our right to self-determination and free prior informed consent (FPIC), in accordance with indigenous political structures and customary systems of governance and other forms of collective decision making, including the decision to say no to development projects and policies that violate our rights.

4. Stop militarization of indigenous communities, human rights violations, killings of indigenous peoples and advocates and criminalization of peoples’ legitimate resistance in the assertion of our collective rights. Give justice and hold perpetrators accountable of past violations

5. Establish appropriate consultation and grievance mechanisms with indigenous people and other development actors at different levels.

6. Establish documentation, monitoring and information mechanisms on the development projects implemented in indigenous territories to ensure transparency.

7. Establish a corporate accountability framework for public and private corporations.

For International Financial Institutions (IFI):

1. Stop funding extractive industries, energy projects, plantations and other projects that destroy indigenous peoples’ land, resources and cultural identity. Ensure that companies have obtained the FPIC of indigenous communities as a prerequisite before extending any financing for projects in indigenous peoples’ territories.

2. IFI funding for projects where military and paramilitary forces are being used as security forces resulting to human rights violations should be stopped immediately and no further support should be extended.

3. Ensure transparency and full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in the review process of the safeguard policies of IFIs. Ensure the alignment of these safeguard policies with international human rights instruments including the UNDRIP.

4. Appropriate enforcement mechanisms and sanctions should be strictly enforced and properly monitored to strengthen the implementation of the safeguards.

For Corporations:

1. Respect international standards on indigenous peoples, especially the UNDRIP, ILO Convention 169 and UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These international standards should be mainstreamed within corporate policy and practice.

2. Respect FPIC as a process defined and managed by the indigenous communities whose lives are impacted by proposed extractive and energy projects. Respect indigenous peoples’ own FPIC protocols or policies where these exist.

For Civil Society Organizations:

1. Support indigenous communities’ local struggles by extending assistance for research, information, education, advocacy and lobby. Support capacity building of indigenous peoples for the effective assertion of our rights.

For Indigenous Peoples organizations and communities:

1. Strengthen and sustain our sustainable ways of life for the future generations and our resolve in defending our land, territories and resources against destructive projects.

2. Strengthen our organizations to assert our rights when dealing with extractive industries and other projects that impact on our lives and territories. Build alliances among indigenous peoples and with wider networks and organizations in order to engender the broadest possible support for our struggles.

3. Utilize relevant processes and possible avenues of complaint and redress at local, national and international levels. Learn from the experiences of other communities to inform our local decision-making and planning.

We also agree to take the following concrete steps as ways forward:

1. Strengthen and expand the Asia Indigenous Peoples Network on Extractive Industries and Energy Projects (AIPNEE) and the Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders Network (IPHRD).

2. Support ongoing and organize sustained campaigns on extractive industries, energy and human rights to support the local struggles of indigenous communities.

3. Conduct national and international lobby activities targeting governments, ASEAN, SAARC, IFIs, UN, and companies investing and operating in our lands.

4. Extend concrete solidarity support to fellow indigenous peoples across the world waging struggles against extractives and energy projects, human rights violations, and the current unsustainable development model.

Affirmed on this 22nd day of April, 2014 in Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines.

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