The activities of Vedanta Resources, a London listed FTSE-100 mining company outside the UK have had, and continue to have, adverse impacts on the ability of Indigenous Peoples to enjoy the rights recognised in the Convention and other relevant international human rights instruments, particularly the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (endorsed by the UK in 2007). The Dongira’s rights as an Indigenous People are being violated. Any future project affecting Niyamgiri would be subject by the Lenders’ Requirement to apply the Equator Principles and the IFC performance standards. This includes PF7, which states that the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples must be obtained. The Niyamgiri Hills form a mountainous area in the Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa, in the eastern part of India. They are populated by the indigenous community of the Dongria Kond, Majhi Konds, and Jharnias who consider the Hills sacred, as their daily lives have depended on them for several centuries. In December 2008, the Indian government, more particularly its Ministry of Environment and Forests, approved a project to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills.
This project was proposed and will be conducted by a joint venture corporation, the South-West Orissa Bauxite Mining Corporation, involving two major corporations: Sterlite Industries India Limited, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Plc with 76% shares, and the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation with 24% shares.
The proposed project has faced a number of human rights and environmental objections, not the least important of which relates to the exercise of the right to water.These activities have occurred in the context of a regulatory framework that fails to ensure that the rights in the Convention are respected by companies subject to the jurisdiction of the UK.
These include rights:-
(a) to security of person;
(b) to health;
( c ) to self-determination;
(d) not to be subject to destruction of culture;
(e ) to own, use, develop and control traditional lands (as well as lands that have been otherwise acquired);
(f) not to be forcibly removed from lands or territories without free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)
(g) and the payment of just and fair compensation;
(h) to conservation of the environment and the productive capacity of territories and
(i) to be able to participate in, develop and pass on cultural and religious customs;
(j) to participate in decision-making in matters that would affect their rights.
(A)The Convention, Article 5(b); UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by UNGA Resolution 61/295 on 13 September 2007 (“UNDRIP”), Article 7.
(B) UNDRIP, Article 24(2), which refers to the right of Indigenous Peoples to equal enjoyment of “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”. See also Article 29(3). See also the 1997 General Recommendation 23 (1997 General Recommendation), paragraph 4(c).
( C ) See the 1997 General Recommendation which calls on States parties to “recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to own, develop, control and use their communal lands, territories and resources”, at paragraph See also UNDRIP, Articles 3, 4 and 5.
(D)1997 General Recommendation, paragraph 4(a); UNDRIP, Article 8, and see also Article 31 in
relation to preservation of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge.
(E) UNDRIP, Article 26 and Article 32(1).
(F) UNDRIP, Article 10 and Article 32(2). See also Articles 25 and 26 in relation to rights of access to traditionally-owned lands. See also 1997 General Recommendation, paragraph 4(d). See also UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“CESCR”), General Comment No. 21: Right of Everyone to Take Part in Cultural Life, 21 December 2009, paragraph 37.
(G) UNDRIP, Article 10, 11 and 28.
(H) UNDRIP, Article 29. See also Article 20 (right to security in the enjoyment of “means of subsistence and development”).
(I) CERD, Article 5(e)(vi); UNDRIP, Articles 11, 12 and 13.
(J) UNDRIP, Articles 18, 19 and Article 32(2); CERD, Article 5(c) (“political rights”)
Cernic, Jernej Letnar (2011) : Corporate obligations under the human right to water, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy › Vol. 39 Nbr. 2.
“Govt. of Orissa decided in March, 1997 to develop the bauxite
deposits in Lanjigarh and Karlapat and a MoU with Sterlite Industries Ltd.
was executed during April, 1997 by OMC. After successful negotiation with
Sterlite for setting up an integrated aluminium project consisting of 1 million
tonne Alumina & 2.2 lakh tonne of Aluminium per year, the MoU was
converted into an agreement with M/s. Vedanta Alumina Ltd ( the arm of
M/s. Sterlite Industries for bauxite / Alumina Projects ) on October 5 , 2004
for the Lanjigarh deposit after obtaining due approvals. Govt. of India has
also approved the mining lease for the Lanjigarh bauxite deposits in favour
of OMC after being fully informed of the terms and conditions of the above
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