General Debate under Item 5: Human rights bodies and mechanisms
21 September 2017
EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice welcomes the report on Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.
It goes without saying that indigenous peoples have contributed significant good practices and knowledge with regards to the environment and sustainable development. Their achievements deserve acknowledgement and their voices need to be heard. Instead, many face reprisals and intimidation particularly by pro-governmental forces and paramilitaries by transnational corporations and big businesses. Moreover, indigenous human rights defenders who attempt to address the relevant United Nations bodies and systems on their behalf against human rights violations are targeted and are the subject of reprisals, coercive measures, harassment, intimidation of violence, and even detention.
We would also like to note that other efforts to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples such as turning to courts as non-litigation tactics does not always yield positive results as they suffer significant financial losses in court appearances, travels, and other expenses that are purposefully instigated by TNCs and big businesses. This has been the case in almost all regions with the presence of TNCs, extractive industries, and/or big businesses, and especially in developing countries.
As this has been the case for several decades it is more than overdue time that the relevant UN bodies seriously address this issue by expanding the participation of indigenous peoples, putting in practical measures that ensures ethical business practices and prohibiting and holding accountable the perpetrators. As well, states should take and bear responsibility of parent companies that commit reprisals and intimidation tactics.