A step towards accountability
First Peoples Human Rights Coalition
March 10, 2007
In February, the Western Shoshone exercised their right to represent themselves on an international level, by submitting a shadow report [attached] to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva. Several other articulate Indigenous groups also submitted reports to the Committee, all regarding human rights responsibilities of the government of Canada.
The Western Shoshone report emphasized that the actions and policies of transnational corporations registered in Canada were causing adverse effects on the human rights of the Western Shoshone in the United States, as well as the human rights of other Indigenous peoples in countries all over the world.
The report further specified various human rights being undermined or violated, including the Western Shoshone’s right to practice their own culture, to preserve their prayer places, their right to their own means of subsistence, their right to health, their right to own and control their own lands and resources, to food that has not been contaminated, to water that is drinkable, and to a safe and healthy environment.
From the Western Shoshone Defense Project report:
“Based on Canada’s obligations to respect, protect and promote the rights of all peoples, we request that this Committee take appropriate measures to ensure that Canadian transnational behavior on indigenous lands does not contribute to ongoing violations against the Western Shoshone or other indigenous peoples outside of Canada’s borders.”
The Committee recognized the importance of the reports, including additional reports from non-Indigenous support groups. From the concluding observations of the CERD Committee:
17. The Committee notes with concern the reports of adverse effects of economic activities connected with the exploitation of natural resources in countries outside Canada by transnational corporations registered in Canada on the right to land, health, living environment and the way of life of indigenous peoples living in these regions
the Committee encourages the State party to take appropriate legislative or administrative measures to prevent acts of transnational corporations registered in Canada which negatively impact on the enjoyment of rights of indigenous peoples in territories outside Canada. In particular, the Committee recommends to the State party that it explore ways to hold transnational corporations registered in Canada accountable. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report information on the effects of activities of transnational corporations registered in Canada on indigenous peoples abroad and on any measures taken in this regard.
All shadow reports to the CERD Committee regarding Canada can be found at:
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