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BRIEFING  - June 4, 2014

To learn more about the Millenium Development Goals, click on the graphic

Read the latest “Dominicans at the UN” newsletter

Past Briefings:

May 7, 2014
Mentoring and motivating future leaders at the UN

April 9, 2014
Gender equality: He for She Campaign

March 19, 2014
Dominican Sisters International and Yale University at the UN

March 5, 2014
Social protection floors reduce inequality, create security

Feb 19, 2014
‘Humanity divided’: Inequality a barrier to development

Jan 8, 2014
Voices of Femicide

Nov 22, 2013
Superstorm Haiyan: ‘A climate nightmare’ in the Philippines

Oct 23, 2013
From food security to food sovereignty

Oct 9, 2013
Lampedusa shipwreck spotlights perils of migration

Sept 25, 2013
Ban Ki-moon: ‘A life of dignity for all’

Sept 11, 2013
Syria: ‘The only certainty is uncertainty’

July 10, 2013
RIO + 20 one year later… Part II

June 26, 2013
RIO + 20 one year later… Where are we?

June 12, 2013
Saving future generations from the scourge of war

May 8, 2013
Hunger, nutrition, and climate justice: A new dialogue

April 24, 2013
Social Protection Floor: A feasible way to alleviate poverty

A report from the Indigenous Peoples Forum

By Abby McCrary, Dominican Volunteer

The 13th Session of the Indigenous Peoples Forum took place at the UN Headquarters in New York last month with discussions and negotiations between stakeholders, governments, and indigenous representatives from all over the world. Distinct challenges faced by these marginalized communities were highlighted, including unemployment, poor education, low access to services, and poverty.

One exceptional workshop was sponsored by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICCM) to facilitate dialogue between indigenous community leaders and corporate representatives. The workshop delved into the complexities of resource extraction and the process of consultation and consent from indigenous communities.

The process of engaging these communities in the past has often been fraught with desperation, misunderstanding, and pain. Issues of trust are a major hindrance which prevent opportunities for both companies and indigenous peoples. Indigenous populations fear a loss of culture, infringement of land rights, degradation of natural beauty and integrity of the earth, and violence against local women and girls. However, because many of these populations are impoverished, economic development and progress in the form of extracted resource sales for the community is a strong incentive to allow companies access to land for mining, drilling or fracking.

But how do these negotiations take place, and who participates in them? These were central questions in the workshop, with the hope that the indigenous and corporate representatives would come away with a more clear strategy of communication for future resource exploration prospects.

As external actors, corporations often have little to no cultural knowledge of the communities with whom they aim to do business. This brings challenges to negotiations at two levels. First, corporations need to be advised on how to approach situations in which traditional rights are not recognized by the state, or where tension exists between traditional representatives and elected officials.

Secondly, at the local level, it is essential that a process exists for consent which is inclusive of the group in all its diversity. Women are among the marginalized groups whose perspectives must be embraced. A process needs to be constructed in order to create space for these voices. If community members were able to share their concerns, as well as their hopes, perhaps a deal could be agreed upon (or rejected) to ensure that these specific needs are met. A gender-sensitive and inclusive type of engagement toward consent, one that has historically not been present, would cultivate greater community participation and power in decision-making. A method such as this would likely require time and educational resources in order to inform all community members of the stipulations of an agreement which affects their land. However, the investment would certainly be worthwhile if it prevents future misunderstandings and conflict at multiple levels.

More broadly, there is a crucial need for companies to move away from a philanthropic approach to dealing with indigenous peoples, and towards a strategy of sustainability. Rather than seeing the consultation process as a dichotomy of profit-maximization and cultural preservation, all stakeholders could join together in inclusive dialogue for the common goal of long-term sustainability.

Margaret Mayce

Margaret Mayce, OP (DLC/Amityville)
NGO in Special Consultative Status at the United Nations
Dominican Leadership Conference
211 East 43 St. Rm 704
New York, NY 10017
email: Margaret Mayce, OP

Dominican Leadership Conference

Building relationships and collaborating in the mission of preaching the Gospel
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248-536-3234 Contact: Executive Director