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Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank must respect indigenous rights

October 26 2015
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact calls for greater respect for the rights of indigenous peoples in its comments on the draft Environmental and Social Framework of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The comments endorsed by 119 organizations from 27 countries include recommendations for stronger safeguard for indigenous peoples

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) aims to fund infrastructure development and other projects to support regional and national development targets.

Without stronger safeguards on indigenous peoples' rights in the Banks' Environmental and Social Framework this aim will have serious implications on the lives and well-being of millions of Indigenous Peoples in the region, says Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact. 

Two-thirds of the estimated 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide are in Asia. Though indigenous peoples account for 5% of the global population, they comprise 15% of the poorest.

The Government of China and Chinese companies, in particular, have huge investments in the territories of indigenous peoples, who already experience serious adverse impacts such as displacements, destruction of biodiversity and cultural heritage, and loss of livelihoods.

While Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) welcomes the draft environmental and social safeguards of the Bank, it calls for a more stringent requirement for the conduct of the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples in ensuring the respect for their rights to their lands, territories and resources, self-determined development and cultural heritage.

Projects such as large dams, mining, ports, railroads, and biofuel plantations are now being implemented and targeted in the lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples as part of the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and development targets of the rest of Asia.

It is thus critical for the AIIB to provide a more meaningful and participatory consultation process with indigenous peoples’ representatives in the regionto ensure that its Environmental and Social Framework is responsive to the conditions and circumstances of indigenous peoples in the region and is fully aligned with respect to their rights as affirmed by international human rights instruments.

AIPP thus strongly recommends that key officials of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank conduct a regional face-to-face meeting with duly selected indigenous peoples’ representatives and extends its cooperation in planning such consultation.

Further, AIPP reiterates the civil society recommendations on the overall consultation process, including extension of the consultation period, use of regional languages and special attention to inclusion of vulnerable groups, among others.

For further inquiries see AIPP public statement 23 October 2015