23 June, 2018

Statement by Special Rapporteur to 70th session of the UN General Assembly

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Statement by Victoria Tauli Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

70th session of the General Assembly
Third Committee
Item # 70 (a)

20 October 2015

New York

Mr. President,
Your Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I have the honor to present today my second report to the General Assembly. I would like to start by expressing my gratitude to the numerous States, indigenous peoples, and others for the support they have provided as I have carried out my mandate accorded to me by the Human Rights Council over the past year, my first as Special Rapporteur.

I dedicate the thematic section of the present report to an analysis of international investment agreements and investment clauses of free trade regimes and their impacts on the rights of indigenous peoples. This, I view as the starting point for that issue, which I intend to be of continuing importance throughout the course of my mandate. The report discusses a number of areas of concern, relating both to direct violations of the rights of indigenous peoples and the systemic impact of those regimes on their lives and communities. Investment clauses of free trade agreements and bilateral and multilateral investment treaties, as they are currently conceptualized and implemented, have actual and potential negative impacts on indigenous peoples’ rights, in particular on their rights to self-determination; lands, territories and resources; participation; and free, prior and informed consent. That is not to suggest that investments are inherently destructive. Future studies will focus on how investment agreements can be equally beneficial for indigenous peoples and investors.

The present report also highlights my analysis of the unjust elements of the prevailing system of global economic and financial governance and the constriction of the protective capacity of States and local governance systems. It discusses how indigenous peoples, as some of the most marginalized in the world, bear a disproportionate burden of a system that contains systemic imbalances between the enforcement of corporate investors’ rights and human rights. The report concludes that both a more thorough review of implications of international investment and free trade agreements and deeper policy and systemic reforms are needed to ensure the respect, protection and fulfilment of indigenous peoples’ rights. 


Read full report here.