TPP threatens indigenous land rights, UN official says

February 21, 2016
Graphic: TeleSUR English.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which involves 12 Pacific rim nations, seriously threatens indigenous land rights, as well as the natural resources they preserve, said United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

In an interview with the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Tauli-Corpuz said a major issue with the trade deal is “the clause of non-discrimination between a local and an international investor ... [it] grants more rights to transnational firms, often at the expense of indigenous rights”.

This is a crucial issue, she said, as most remaining natural resources available on earth are located on indigenous lands — and protecting them is part of indigenous cultures.

Trade agreements like the TPP prioritise corporate rights over human rights, Tauli-Corpuz insisted, adding that even if states implement policies to protect human rights, companies may challenge them at court with the support of such trade agreements.

Leaked documents suggest the trade deal is one of the most brutal ever as it benefits multinational corporations to the detriment of workers, consumers, health care and the environment.

The secretive and controversial TPP was signed on Feburary 4, but still requires ratification by congresses and parliaments of the countries involved. The 12 signatory nations to the deal, which encompasses 40% of global GDP, are the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Tauli-Corpuz also condemned the International Labor Organisation for not having a strong program in place in each member state to monitor the effective implementation of UN Convention No 169 on indigenous rights.

Tauli-Corpuz mentioned the case of Ecuador, where oil giant Chevron-Texaco was legally ordered to clean up the area after it had caused serious environmental damage between 1964 and 1992 as an example of the risks of not having proper monitoring programs in place.

Despite a court ruling, the multinational oil giant has not complied. Instead, it continues to delay action through court appeals, in which it tried to place the blame on the Ecuadorian state.

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]

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