Indigenous Peoples and Globalisation

A keynote from Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations

Co-presented by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in conjunction with the Sydney Environment Institute as part of the Worldwide University Network (WUN) International Indigenous Research Network (IIRN) events on campus

Professor James Anaya, the previous Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous peoples concluded that extractive and other large scale corporate activities constitute today ‘one of the most important sources of abuse of the rights of Indigenous peoples’ This lecture addresses this issue in relation to globalization, because in this new century the line that separates corporate interest from state policy is sometime blurred. At the present time foreign investors and corporations are benefitting from an international protection regime that is consolidated through rules under bilateral investment treaties and/or free trade agreements in virtually all parts of the world.

Indigenous peoples have been at the forefront of discussions regarding the human rights abuses committed by corporations since the 1970s. For decades, Indigenous peoples have been victims of corporate activities in or near their traditional territories, which have depleted and polluted their traditional territories without their consent, putting many peoples at the verge of cultural or physical extinction. Today, little has changed in relation to this situation.

Drawing on my experience as Special Rapporteur, this lecture reflects on the reasons why local Indigenous communities continue to suffer disproportionately the negative impact of corporate activities, and why community leaders and activists suffer a true escalation of violence at the hands of government forces and private security companies.

In the spirit of consensus building and drawing on the guiding principles that underpin UN principles of human rights this lecture considers how to reinforce the primacy of human rights in the development of international instruments and laws regulating business activities, for at present the cost paid by Indigenous peoples, and many other human communities is too high.


Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations. She has been a long time environmental activist in the Philippines. She has extended her activism to work with Indigenous peoples on these issues globally. She is co-author with Gerry Mander of a book Paradigm Wars: Indigenous peoples resistance to Economic Globalisation.

This Sydney ideas lecture is the keynote address following a symposium Defence of Country: Aboriginal people dealing with the impacts of globalisation in Australia at the University of Sydney.