This Scorecard is due to be updated in 2018
Globally, there are over 370 million indigenous people, living in 70 countries and spanning six continents.
Historically indigenous peoples have been marginalised, dispossessed and subjugated, exploited by a dominant society and denied basic political, social and cultural rights. While the state holds primary responsibility for protecting and respecting the rights of all citizens, including those of indigenous groups, business and other institutions also have responsibilities when dealing with tribal and indigenous peoples.
International law, as set out in International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 107 and 169 and, in particular, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, recognises the right of tribal and indigenous peoples to ownership of the lands that they have traditionally occupied and to the natural resources and intellectual property pertaining to those lands. Nonetheless, in many countries, including those that have ratified the international conventions, governments do not always ensure that indigenous and tribal land rights are adequately protected. Furthermore, the human rights of tribal and indigenous peoples may be consistently ignored or violated by business. Taken to its extreme, some peoples suffer forced displacement and subsequent confiscation of their land for commercial exploitation of natural resources such as timber, oil, gold and diamonds or for ranching and commercial agriculture. Even when indigenous populations remain, they may still suffer as a result of commercial operations, leading to social and environmental damage, potentially leading to the loss of their way of life. Such acculturation generally leads to greater poverty, poorer health, more violence and disintegration of social life for the affected peoples.
Consequently, both governments and business should work together to ensure that the rights of indigenous groups are protected. In 2007, the United Nations Human Rights Council published its Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a non-binding report which emphasizes that “the responsibility to respect human rights is a global standard of expected conduct for all business enterprises wherever they operate”. The 2008 UN 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' Framework rests on three pillars:
● The state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation, and adjudication
● The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts that occur
● Greater access by victims to effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial.
Any business operations that may affect tribal and indigenous peoples should take place in a transparent and consensual manner. Peoples affected should receive appropriate compensation and/or profits, or otherwise benefit. Finally, if the land concerned is occupied by isolated or 'uncontacted' tribal peoples, companies must respect that the land belongs to these people (who might chose to reject contact) and recognise that it should not be used for developments of any kind.