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Indigenous Rights and Mining: Submissions to the UN Committe on Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties.

All States parties [including Canada] are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Convention and then every two years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/index.htm

In February 2012 during the CERD's 80th session the Committee reviewed Canada's 19th and 20th reports. Prior to the review interested parties submitted comments to CERD on Canada's progress, or lack there of, in implementing the Convention and responding to the Committee's earlier recommendations. A total of 28 submissions were made including one from MiningWatch Canada on mining and Indigenous rights in Canada, and a joint statement by 22 organizations, including MiningWatch, on the issue of corporate accountability of Canadian mining companies operating outside of Canada. 

From MiningWatch's Submission:

Canada’s 19th and 20th Reports to the Committee have failed to meaningfully address the
interrelated issues of discrimination over access to land, the lack of progress in negotiated
land rights settlements, and Canada’s implementation of related international instruments.

...

Exploration activities are presumed by provincial regulators to be inconsequential to
Indigenous rights and title even though environmental and social impacts may result.
Although it fails to provide a complete listing of potential impacts, the government of Canada
does acknowledge that impacts from exploration may occur in Natural Resources Canada’s
online Mining Information Kit for Aboriginal Communities.

...

While exploration agreements, IBAs and revenue sharing provide for better relationships and benefits from mineral development, when Indigenous communities do not give their consent to a project due to fundamental concerns about the potential impacts of the project, such agreements can serve no practical purpose. Saying “no” to a mine development remains exceedingly difficult for Indigenous peoples across Canada.
 

From the Joint Submission:

Our organizations are deeply concerned that Canada has failed to provide any information on corporate accountability in its latest reports to this Committee and has, in fact, failed to comply with the Committee’s recommendations or address the important human rights concerns that they reflect.

....

The Canadian government has failed to establish a mechanism that can compel companies to participate in an investigation of allegations of human rights abuses in their overseas operations.Similarly, the government has failed to establish a mechanism capable of holding corporations accountable, should their operations be found to be responsible for human rights violations, either by withholding government assistance, ordering redress for victims, or other corrective measures.

The full submissions can be downloaded at the links below.