How to reach an agreement between indigenous peoples and companies?

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The village of Tukhard as the crow flies. Photo: Andrey Lushchekin

Free, Prior and Informed Consent is reflected in Article 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The bottom line is that in order to use the territory, which is historically considered the territory of indigenous peoples, it must be received by the state or the company. This is how relationships of trust are built with Aboriginal peoples.

In Russia, obtaining consent is not an act of goodwill by businessmen, but a legalized necessity, laid down in the standards of responsibility for the inhabitants of the Arctic zone. What, by the way, is the difference between Russia and the United States.

As Jennifer Waddle, co-chair of the American Indian Law Practice, said at the event, there are dozens of laws in America that protect the cultural property of Indigenous peoples, but none require authorities to adhere to the principle of CLIP. There are examples where dialogue is established and the project is implemented to the mutual satisfaction of companies and indigenous peoples. But there are also examples to the contrary: the construction of the Dakota pipeline provoked massive protests from the Sioux Indians, but the court ruled against them.

Cross-cultural counseling services expert Gregory Gouldin of Seattle said it was important to increase Indigenous participation in negotiations. And for this they must unite in communities – Councils and Commissions (Commissions). As positive examples of dialogue, Gregory Gouldin cited the interaction of the commodity trade with the indigenous peoples of Sakhalin.

This experience is not limited to Sakhalin. It is thanks to the FPIC principle that the fate of the village of Tukhard in Taimyr is being decided. Antonina Gorbunova, Executive Director of the International Public Organization of the Union of Indigenous Peoples, a member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, presented a case study on the implementation of the FPIC principle in Taimyr, the first such experiment in the Russian Arctic.

Tuhard was born spontaneously half a century ago, shortly after building a business on this site – now it is Norilskgazprom, part of Norilsk Nickel. Northern natives move into free temporary housing built for company workers. The village owes its name to the specificities of its activity: from the Nenets, Tukhard is translated as “a place where fire is made”. Unfortunately, the place will soon be in a sanitary protection zone, and recently the construction of houses and residences in these zones is prohibited. At the same time, the Tukhard tundra has been a traditional place of residence and conduct of the traditional Nenets way of life for many centuries.

This is how Norilsk Nickel launched, with the agreement of the inhabitants of Tukhard, the procedure for obtaining the CLIP. The residents of Tukhard voted for a new location for the settlement and signed an agreement with the company which stipulates the terms of the relocation. The company will propose for approval to the indigenous population of Tukhard an architectural solution for new housing, the construction of which should be completed in 2026. In addition, an important aspect is the infrastructure – a school, a hospital, workshops for processing the fish and meat, and much more. All housing and infrastructure decisions are made in consultation with indigenous peoples and are built under their full control.

Negotiations and discussions were conducted in accordance with international standards with the participation of international experts. The procedure was organized by the organization SIM.

The Council of Representatives formed by the inhabitants of Tukhard participates in the dialogue with the companies. It controls the construction, the quality of building materials, architectural solutions and other topical issues. A mechanism for handling complaints and monitoring the implementation of the resettlement and village development program will be put in place.

At the end of the event, Alexei Tsykarev, Vice-President of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, expressed his hope that the new paradigm of relations between business and indigenous peoples proposed by Gregory Gouldin will become a generally accepted world practice, the formation of which is complicated by the peculiarities of legislation, customs and the traditional way of life of indigenous peoples.

Source: KP

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