Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dooda (NO) Desert Rock to UN: Human rights abuses by energy corporations


JAMES W. ZION
Attorney at Law
JZion@aol.com

November 21,2009
Julian Burger
Indigenous & Minorities Unit Coordinator
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva Office
Palais Wilson, Room 4-0811211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND

Re:Elaboration of Guidelines on Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Extractive Industries

Dear Mr. Burger:
I take this opportunity to follow up on a recent informal communication to you to open discussionof this issue and to say how good it was to see you in Geneva in August.
I see a lot of movement on questions that are vital to Dooda Desert Rock ofthe Navajo Nation. TheUnited Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination took particular note of problems associated with mining in areas of spiritual and cultural significance to Native Americans in the United States and adverse effects of the exploitation of natural resources by transnational corporations in its consideration of periodic reports of the United State, with specific reference to discrimination against indigenous Peoples in the United States. ReportCERD/CIUSAlCO/6,29,30 (8 May 2008).
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner gave a report to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on a workshop on natural resource companies, indigenous peoples and human rights that cited the work of your office on "the elaboration of guidelines, which would serve as a framework for implementation of a human rights perspective, in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant human rights standards, for extractive industries wanting to undertake activities on the land and territories of indigenous peoples." Document Paragraph 33, DocumentAlHRC/EMRIP12009/5(3July 2009).
I represent Dooda Desert Rock (Navajo for "NO" to the proposed Desert Rock power plant), an unincorporated association of grassroots Navajos, indigenous individuals and supporters, that is dedicated to not only blocking the ill-conceived Desert Rock power plant proposed by Sithe Global
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LLC, a transnational corporation engaged in extractive industries, but supporting economic development initiatives in the Indian Country of the United States that promote traditional values.
The include balance, harmony, respect and equality and the fact that Mother Earth and Father Skyare Holy Beings who live with us. The organization honors the elements of life and the teachings and wisdom of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers that we must honor the Earth and deal with itin a respectful way.
The United States is at a crossroads for energy policy. There are various proposals for energy development in Indian Country, but going to themes announced by the Expert Mechanism on theRights of Indigenous Peoples in its Report to the Human Rights Council on the Second Session heldin Geneva in August of this year (No. AlHRCI12/32, 8 September 2009) and by the Special Rapporteur in his report to the Council (No. AlHRC/12/34, 15 July 2009), participation and activeconsultation for genuine informed consent are a major problem in the United States.
That is, the federal government, and its Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in particular, areproceeding to develop energy policy for Indian Country without adequate notice to Indian Country and to individual Indians, including civil society organizations such as Dooda Desert Rock.
Indigenous civil society is being denied meaningful participation in policy development and issues that matter. We encounter problems with the desecration of our sacred mountains of the West and of the South by recreational development and threatened uranium extraction (with hate crimes associated with the latter) and the possibility that the federal government will surrender its oversight powers to companies through ill-conceived delegations of authority to Indian nation governments.
Dooda Desert Rock stresses that it is not opposed to economic development or resource extraction-it is opposed to false "economic development" that does not include or serve the people and toresource extraction without regard to the human rights of the people who live on the land.
Accordingly, I am instructed by Dooda Desert Rock, and by other grassroots groups of this region that will participate in the High Commissioner's development of guidelines to assure the observation of human rights in resource extraction, to inform you of the interest of this organization, the desire to participate in the High Commissioner's work to elaborate guidelines, and to request notice ofactivities where they can have input into her efforts.
My clients look forward to a positive and meaningful working relationship with the High Commissioner on this issue.

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