Top NGOs Violate Indigenous Rights in Name of Conservation: UN

The World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society stand accused of displacing Indigenous peoples and violating their rights.

Some of the world’s leading conservation groups are violating the rights of Indigenous people by backing projects that oust them from their ancestral homes in the name of environmental preservation, a top U.N. expert said this week.

U.N. special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz’s latest report documents killings, evictions and lands being used for resource extraction without Indigenous consent—practices that affect millions of Indigenous people across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“Projects supported by major conservation organizations continue to displace local peoples from their ancestral homes,” said Tauli-Corpuz, who gave a series of talks on her findings at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, the globe’s largest gathering of conservation leaders.

While she refrained from naming names in her report, she told AFP the groups include the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“They know who they are,” she said in an interview on the sidelines of the IUCN meeting, which has drawn 9,000 heads of states and environmentalists to Hawaii for a 10-day meeting.

“From the reports I have received, these big conservation groups are some of the main groups that should account for what has happened.”

In the past year, Tauli-Corpuz traveled to Honduras, Brazil and to the Sami people in the Arctic regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

In Honduras, she met with the Indigenous Lenca activist, Berta Caceres, four months before she was killed in March 2016 “because of her protests against the Agua Zarca dam project, even though she had been awarded precautionary protection measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,” said the report.

In Brazil, Tauli-Corpuz expressed deep concerns about “killings and violent evictions of the Guarani-Kaiowa peoples in Mato Grosso (that) continue to take place.”

One of the main threats to the rights of the Sami people is the “increased drive to mineral extraction and the development of renewable energy projects,” added the report.

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