EU: Protection of indigenous peoples' right must be retained in deforestation law, says Forest Peoples Programme amid reports France is blocking inclusion ahead of final negotiations
As final negotiations on the EU regulation on deforestation-free products draw to a close, proponents of unchecked business activities have been doubling down on their efforts to weaken the law. Negotiations between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU are set to finalise next week when negotiators will agree on a compromise for a final text to be adopted. One crucial provision of the draft law currently being targeted by corporate aiders and abettors of environmental and human rights violations as well as by certain EU member states, is the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including customary tenure rights and the right to free, prior and informed consent.
These rights protections, which were added by the European Parliament following vast support from almost the entirety of the political spectrum, were meant to ensure that EU consumption of the regulated commodities (cocoa, soy, wood, oil palm and more) would no longer contribute to the theft and destruction of indigenous lands and, in turn, reinforce the EU’s ability to reduce its impact on deforestation and forest degradation. However, the wide consensus reached by the direct representatives of the EU population has proven more contentious for government representatives. Sweden and Finland have actively pushed back against these improvements, and more recently, a major player in EU politics, the French government, has shown its intent of expunging the regulation of any requirement to respect the collective rights of indigenous peoples and local communities...
This purely political opposition hinders not only the recognition and effective protection of indigenous communities in France, but endangers the protection of forest peoples across the globe. If France refuses to stand down, millions will continue to see their human rights violated and their lands destroyed by business activities. The other major EU Member States support stepping up to EU human rights commitments and confirming obligations they have accepted through the ratification of international human rights treaties by placing legal obligations on businesses.