March 06, 2017

UN Rights Expert Urges Consistent Policies For US On Rights Of Indigenous People

Victoria-Tauli Corpuz

UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people Victoria Tauli-Corpuz called on all levels of government in the US to adopt consistent practices when consulting with indigenous tribes on projects that could affect their rights, like the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The Special Rapporteur was concerned about how indigenous people were not fully consulted on DAPL, leaving them with disruptions to their land.

Tauli-Corpuz said that she was encouraged by how indigenous people were trying to engage new technologies to utilize their property as well as a recent report that lays out how the government should try to approach similar pipelines in the future.

However, Tauli-Corpuz was concerned about how current projects are being pushed through with harrowing consequences for indigenous people without their meaningful inclusion in the decision-making process.

But challenges remain. The contemporary executive action that provides the most direct guidance on consultation with tribes, Executive Order 13175, while well intentioned, has developed into a confusing and disjointed framework that suffers from loopholes, ambiguity, and a general lack of accountability.

The regulatory regime did not ensure effective and informed consultations with tribal governments. The breakdown of communication and lack of good faith involvement in the review of federal projects have left tribal governments functionally unable to participate in consequential dialogue with the US on projects affecting their lands, territories, and resources.

Hence, the Special Rapporteur called on the US government to develop stronger relationships with the tribes and create specific standards for future interactions.

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