Fri, 27 Jul 2012
by Bill Twist, Pachamama Alliance
Because you are our valued partner in creating a just, thriving, sustainable world, I had to write to you today with some big news out of Ecuador.
This past Wednesday (July 25, 2012), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the State of Ecuador is responsible for violating the rights of the indigenous Kichwa people of Sarayaku, by not having executed free, prior, and informed consultation before starting an oil development project on their land in the late 1990s.
After over a decade of struggle, the ruling is wonderful news for the Sarayaku people and their allies. It’s also good news for all of us who believe that we must draw on the best of indigenous wisdom and modern knowledge to create a just, thriving, and sustainable future.
The ruling is significant in that it establishes a new and higher standard as to how consultation with indigenous communities must be undertaken: in good faith, through culturally appropriate procedures that are aimed at reaching consent.
Consultations cannot simply consist in sharing decisions that have been already taken. States must make a real effort to establish an open and honest dialogue, based on mutual trust and respect and with the aim of reaching a consensus–this means not imposing anything upon indigenous peoples or unilaterally forging ahead with projects that will substantially affect their rights.
This ruling should dramatically affect Ecuadorian plans for development of the whole southern Amazon region of Ecuador.
Among those plans are the oil concessions currently scheduled to open for bidding this October in the ancestral territories of the Achuar and six other indigenous nations. So you can see why this is big news!
Visit our website for history of the case, a statement from the People of Sarayaku, analysis from Fundación Pachamama. pachamama.org/sarayaku
There’s still much work to be done to ensure that the standards established in this ruling support other indigenous peoples whose lands are under threat.
Even so, I wanted to take this moment to express our gratitude and celebrate this success for the rights of indigenous people everywhere. I hope you will, too.
In solidarity for our shared future,
The Pachamama Alliance
PO Box 29191, Presidio Bldg 1009
San Francisco, CA 94129