May 22, 2016

UN Indigenous Peoples Experts Challenge World Bank

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May 20, 2016 – The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other top UN indigenous peoples experts sent a letter Friday to World Bank President Jim Kim and the Bank’s executive directors, challenging a proposal that would weaken protections for indigenous peoples. This critical issue — whether the Bank will require clients to obtain the free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples before implementing development projects that impact indigenous peoples’ lands, resources or cultural heritage, or involve resettlement — is one of the most watched issues in the ongoing review of the World Bank’s social and environmental safeguard policies. In the letter, the UN experts affirm that “the World Bank has the responsibility to uphold the highest standards of international law, including the rights of indigenous peoples.” The letter urges the Bank to adopt a standard of FPIC, consistent with international law, and asserts that the proposal to equate FPIC with mere “broad community support” “would amount to watering down international standards on the rights of indigenous peoples” and “undermine the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Read the letter here.