At its forty-eighth session (13 September-11 October 2021), the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted resolution 48/14, in which it requested the Advisory Committee to conduct a study and to prepare a report, in close cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, on the impact of new technologies for climate protection on the enjoyment of human rights, and to submit the report to the Council at its fifty-fourth session (September 2023).
Subsequently this issue was addressed during the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on February 21, 2022. Regarding the lack of inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the proceedings, the ETC Group stated:
This involvement is crucial, particularly given that experiments on solar geoengineering and carbon dioxide removal have already taken place in violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples and peasants. Several geoengineering projects are planned to be carried out in the territories of Indigenous Peoples in violation of their right to free prior and informed consent.
We are very concerned that the panel invited by the HRC Advisory Committee to make presentations on the issue is only composed of researchers from the Global North. It is a matter of public record that each of them has taken positions in favour of the advancement of geoengineering technologies.
This point was also emphasized during the session in the statement by the Heinrich Böll Foundation as follows:
Leading legal experts have pointed at the risks that geoengineering poses to a range of rights including the right to life, the right to health, an adequate standard of living, the right to food and the right to a livelihood. In proposed projects, the full range of relevant rights, including the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) needs to be considered – which is a challenge when considering technological interventions that aim to have transboundary and even global impact!
Public participation in geoengineering decision-making must be meaningful, global and transparent to ensure the severity and scale of potential impacts of geoengineering are fully recognised and taken into account. Those who are already most affected by the climate crisis and those who would suffer most from the adverse impacts of geoengineering must be given an active and leading voice in geoengineering governance and decision-making. This would include, among others, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, women and youth.
We are surprised to see that today’s panel of experts consists of only Northern/Western academic experts with a track record of support for specific geoengineering approaches and would like to encourage the Advisory Committee to seek further consultation with and advice from indigenous peoples and potentially affected rights-holders from around the world.
On March 2, 2022, contesting the denomination of NTCP by the experts of the HRC Advisory Committee an intervention by the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) stated:
In light of this information, it is concerning that the HRC mandated the HRC Advisory Committee to evaluate geoengineering technologies that were wrongly subsumed under the title of “climate protection technologies.”
Regarding the pervasive violations of the right of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in terms of geoengineering projects, the IEN also stated:
The Arctic Ice Project has not been transparent about opposition or concerns that have been raised. The National Congress of American Indians passed a resolution against Solar Radiation Management in June 2021, yet these experiments continue.
Tribal members all across the coasts of the Arctic who rely on the Arctic ice are not fully informed about the project including its scope or the intention behind it. They have not been included in discussions on a broad scale, and there has been no formal consent of all Indigenous nations who live where this is being tested and where there is intended deployment.
Introducing a substance that does not normally reside on the Earth’s surface is risky at best, and could be very detrimental, especially since not all coastal tribes have been consulted. Their knowledge of the lands, ocean, and ice have not been formally and fully considered. Tokenizing a few Alaska Natives by uplifting the voices of those who agree with the project and simply ignoring those who raise concerns is not consent.
The Saami Peoples
In early 2021, Saami Council was contacted about a planned test by the project called SCoPEx (Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment) based at Harvard University. The SCoPEx project is a scientific experiment meant to advance understanding of stratospheric aerosols that could be relevant to solar geoengineering, also known as SRM – Solar Radiation Management.
The Saami Council was informed that after several unsuccessful plans to conduct field tests over U.S territory, the SCoPEx research team moved their first part of the experiment to Sápmi. Apart from the possible negative consequences of the technology itself, Indigenous Peoples in the U.S underlined that the testing would violate the sacred relationship between Mother Earth and Father Sky and stopped SCoPEx from proceeding. Following this, the research team turned towards the Swedish Space Corporation in Giron, the Swedish part of Sápmi.
In late February 2021, the Saami Council together with environmental organizations in Sweden sent an open letter to the SCoPEx advisory committee and underlined that there are no acceptable reasons for allowing the SCoPEx project to be conducted in Sweden or elsewhere. The Saami Council has also addressed the Swedish government through a letter to the three ministries responsible for environment, research and enterprise.
The Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 8 October 2021 48/14 “Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change” states in the introductory paragraph:
The Human Rights Council,
Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
Reaffirming that States have the obligation and the primary responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and all relevant international human rights instruments,
The concluding paragraph affirms that:
“Emphasizes that, while taking steps to respond to climate change, States must ensure that they meet their human rights obligations;”
ALTA OUTCOME DOCUMENT
10 – 12 June 2013
We further affirm that nothing in this process or its outcomes may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating any of the rights of Indigenous Peoples contained in the Declaration, or any of the other international standards which protect, defend and uphold the inherent economic, social, cultural, civil, political, educational and spiritual rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We reaffirm the peremptory norms of international law, including on equality and non- discrimination, and assert that the realization of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including those affirmed in the Declaration, must be upheld by States, individually and collectively, free from all forms of discrimination including discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability. We also reaffirm that the Declaration must be regarded as the normative framework and basis for the Outcome Document and its full realization.
We affirm that the inherent and inalienable right of self-determination is preeminent and is a prerequisite for the realization of all rights. We Indigenous Peoples, have the right of self-determination and permanent sovereignty over our lands, territories, resources, air, ice, oceans and waters, mountains and forests.
Theme 1: Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories, resources, oceans and waters
Indigenous Nationhood and Self Determination
The Legacies of Colonialism and the 1999 Treaty Study by Miguel Alfonso Martinez
January 31, 2022
Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth
As Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth, as Nican Tlacah Cemanahuac – we hereby affirm our inherent Human Responsibility and corresponding Human Right of self- determination beyond the conceptual and procedural constraints of the geopolitical architecture of the member states UN system, and call upon our allies and Traditional Confederacies of Indigenous Nations to engage in a multilateral commitment with each other towards the dual goals of World Peace-Peace with Mother Earth as the foundation for our priority work in the international arena.
Today we reemerge from our ancestral territories in the age of planetary climate crisis and invoke the Mandate of the Indigenous Peoples, calling upon all nations large and small to recognize, respect, and honor the Territorial Integrity of Mother Earth.
Prior to the convening of the General Assembly High Level Plenary Meeting in 2014, a UN Indigenous Preparatory Meeting was held in Alta, Norway from June 10-12, 2013. The following intervention from the floor of the Alta Conference was presented by one of the indigenous delegates:
“We call for the restitution of the primary source materials and testimony that was lent to the United Nations system as fundamental to the evidence in document form of the systemic (system to system) nature of the legal relationships between the Nations of Indigenous Peoples and the member states of the UN system for the purpose of the Treaty Study conducted by Dr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez of Cuba.
Such delivery should be initial act of good faith in terms of the continuing process of systemic documentation among the Nations of Indigenous Peoples and the UN system prior to and as a necessary act of condition to allow for the full and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples in the High-Level Plenary Meeting on an equal basis and without systemic discrimination in the process of producing the Final Outcome Document of the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly 2014.
This intervention was never recorded in the official reports from Alta, much less integrated into the Alta Outcome document, nor considered by the UN member states at their 2014 High Level Plenary Meeting, fraudulently called the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
Acknowledging the period 2021–2030 as the Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism designated by the General Assembly, we now resubmit the 1999 Miguel Alfonso Martinez Study to the UN Human Rights Commission, in light of the principle that the prohibition against discrimination is a preemptive norm in international law, and that as Indigenous Peoples we are equal in right to all other peoples, including in the right of Self Determination and a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment for the future generations.
We call for the UN Human Rights Commission to review and revamp the UN website platforms to allow for the 1999 Martinez Treaty Study to be readily accessible to all, as well as the precursor Cobo Study of 1982.
We commit to continue our international Working Group of Indigenous Peoples, and just as when Special Rapporteur Miguel Alfonso Martinez visited our territories for the purposes of his Treaty Study, we shall not be deterred in our efforts to continue the development of international standards that recognize, respect, and protect our right of self-determination as Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth. In terms of international standards, in a contemporary plural and multilateral context, we will not be limited to the compromised version of the 2007 UNDRIP, under which EMRIP is bound via the constraints established by the System Wide Action Plan which was dictated and then subscribed by the 2014 High Level Plenary Meeting and their minions.
The original principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have been subverted from the trajectory of delivering an International Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to a global reduction schema, a geopolitical scam that would attempt to domesticate our inherent collective rights as Indigenous Peoples under the state defined systems of jurisprudence and jurisdiction, country by country.
With the intent to ensure accountability and effectiveness in the global struggle to eradicate colonialism, we commit now to the realization of the recommendation made by Special Rapporteur Martinez in his final report to establish a Treaty Registry that would reconstitute the original materials compiled by the Special Rapporteur, and integrate the indigenous geopolitical systems of jurisgenesis, jurisprudence, jurisdiction and judgment.