This Blog Essay site devotes every February to a series of integrated but short essays on a single theme. The Ruminations Series in 2009 produced a month long series of aphoristic (ἀφορισμός) essays, meant to provoke thought rather than explain it. The hope was that, built up on each other, the series would provide a matrix of thoughts that together might lead the reader in new directions.
For 2010, this site introduces a new series--Business and Human Rights. The series takes as its starting point the issues and questions raised by John Ruggie, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on business and human rights, in a global online forumThe U.N. "Protect, Respect, Remedy" framework is made up of three pillars: the State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to avoid infringing on the rights of others; and greater access by victims to effective remedy, judicial and non-judicial. The forum is currently focused on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, the second pillar of the framework. The forum is divided into sections, each of which contains multiple topics with space for discussion and comment.New Online Forum for U.N. Business and Human Rights Mandate, United Nations Press Release, New York and Geneva, Dec. 1, 2009. Each of the Essays will consider one of the topics raised in the online consultation. My hope is to help generate discussion and to encourage further discussion of the issues within the framework fo the consultation framework.
Part XIX: Human Rights Due Diligence--Issues: Indigenous People.
Within this framework it is not surprising that the relationship between indigenous peoples and modern states, as well as between such communities and economic enterprises, remains deeply dynamic. The SRSG has suggested the importance of First pillar considerations as the foundation for ordering human rights
States are responsible for upholding and implementing their national and international obligations to indigenous peoples. Where company activities may affect the rights of indigenous communities, companies also need to become aware of and understand the particular position of indigenous peoples and their rights in order to ensure that they meet their responsibility to respect human rights.
Issues that tend to arise where business and indigenous peoples meet are land use and ownership; cultural identity and development; the desire for sustainable livelihoods; consultation and the concept of "free, prior and informed consent" (FPIC).
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.
2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
The Voluntary Guidelines were named by a Mohawk term meaning "everything in creation", so as to emphasize the holistic nature of this instrument. Indeed, the guidelines are intended to provide a collaborative framework ensuring the full involvement of indigenous and local communities in the assessment of cultural, environmental and social concerns and interests of indigenous and local communities of proposed developments. Moreover, guidance is provided on how to take into account traditional knowledge, innovations and practices as part of the impact-assessment processes and promote the use of appropriate technologies.
Prior informed consent corresponding to various phases of the impact assessment process should consider the rights, knowledge, innovations and practices of indige- nous and local communities; the use of appropriate language and process; the allocation of sufficient time and the provision of accurate, factual and legally correct information.