Projects and programme interventions of multilateral development banks have a record of systematic and widespread human rights violations for indigenous peoples in Asia. In many countries, indigenous peoples have been subjected to widespread displacement and irreversible loss of traditional livelihoods. Behind these human rights violations is the denial of indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands, territories and resources and to their right to give their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to projects and programme interventions, including those in the name of sustainable development and human development. Among them, the large infrastructure (dams and highway construction) and environmental “conservation” projects have had the most detrimental adverse impacts on indigenous peoples. There are a good number of examples of such projects that have negatively impacted indigenous peoples’ communities in Asian countries, some of which follow below.
The following article, by Maurizio Farhan-Ferrari, Coordinator of the FPP's Environmental Governance Programme, has just been published on the Landscapes Blog for People, Food and Nature:
Cyclone Aila hit the south-western coastal belt of Bangladesh, more specifically the Satkhira and Khulna Districts, on 25 May 2009, affecting almost 2.3 million people and immediately killing 325. The tidal surge, which measured 10-13m, inundated the region and washed away huge numbers of houses, livestock, crops and other resources within a very short time.
With the rapid growth of industrial prawn production there has been a corresponding upsurge in eco-label certification schemes that seek to improve the industry. However, meaningful human rights considerations are rarely incorporated in the formulation of these schemes. The Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) continues to work with coastal community networks to raise awareness of the problems of industrial aquaculture and to push for meaningful human rights considerations in the development of future eco-labelling schemes.
The sustainable customary practices of indigenous peoples, the subject of Article 10(c) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), will be one of the main topics at the upcoming meeting of the CBD Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG-8(j) 6) in Montreal from 2-6 November 2009. A key question on the agenda asks how Parties to the Convention can improve implementation of this important article. The message of indigenous and local communities, submitted ahead of the meeting, is that secure rights to land and resources is a necessary condition to achieve effective implementation of Article 10(c).
On 25 May cyclone Aila swept through the villages of traditional resource-users of the Sundarbans forest, Bangladesh. Disasters like Aila (2009) and Sidr (2007) have forced more than a million people to lose their homes and to migrate from their regions. Kushal Roy, Senior Research Associate with FPP partner Unnayan Onneshan, reports on the trail of destruction left by Aila and asks whether the increasingly volatile weather patterns are a direct result of global climate change.
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Amnesty International Australia has joined with 93 other non-government organisations, which work on behalf of refugees and migrants in the Asia-Pacific, to condemn human rights violations committed recently against members of the Rohingya minority and Bangladeshi migrants.
The organisations are from such diverse countries as Bangladesh, Burma, Australia, India, Egypt, Malaysia, UK, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand, US, Zambia and Nepal.