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Forest Peoples Programme says World Bank's proposal undermines indigenous peoples rights

"Press Release: World Bank moves to undermine the rights of indigenous peoples", 29 July 2014

In an unprecedented move, the World Bank will be proposing that governments could 'opt-out' of requirements designed to protect indigenous peoples from unintended and negative consequences from development activities funded by the multilateral lender. In a leaked draft of new environmental and social standards...language has been included that would allow governments to disregard their existing obligations to indigenous peoples...[P]roposing that governments can ignore international standards on protection of indigenous peoples, and ignore the human rights that underpin those protections, is with out doubt a significant and serious watering down of existing standards...A dangerous aspect of the Bank's proposal is the precedent it could set for other multilateral finance institutions. The Bank has historically been a leader in developing progressively stronger environmental and social protections, but this latest draft undermines that reputation significantly. Joji Cariño, Director of the Forest Peoples Programme, commented "Indigenous peoples' recommendations on the need to strengthen World Bank standards and bring them into line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have fallen on deaf ears. World Bank pledges on 'no-dilution' of existing policies are being broken with this proposed opt-out, despite advances made in other substantive areas of the new proposals." The real threat if the proposed policies are adopted is the practical and immediate impact that these retrograde standards could have for indigenous peoples living in countries where governments routinely deny them their rights. For many indigenous peoples in Africa and elsewhere, national and regional law is just now beginning to recognise and protect their lands and their livelihoods by applying the laws developed over decades of advocacy. Indigenous peoples are mobilizing worldwide to demand that the World Bank withdraw the offensive policy proposals. They are calling on the Bank to ensure that the policy revision results in standards that are fully in line with international norms and obligations on the rights of indigenous peoples. At the same time, they are pressing the World Bank President to uphold his promise to prevent any dilution of existing standards.

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