The World Bank’s Safeguard Policy on Indigenous Peoples (Operational Policy 4.10, July 2005) underscores the need for Borrowers and Bank staff to identify indigenous peoples, consult with them, ensure that they participate in, and benefit from Bank-funded operations in a culturally appropriate way - and that adverse impacts on them are avoided, or where not feasible, minimized or mitigated.
We, 130 indigenous peoples organizations and support NGOs, express our dismay at the long drawn process of the Safeguard Policy review. Since it was announced on November 15 2010, no concrete steps to engage with indigenous peoples have been undertaken on the review process. Further, no draft policy has been made publicly available till today. In the recent information update in Panama, indigenous peoples were informed that the process of review has been extended to end of 2013.
According to a learning review of the policy in 2011, the World Bank lacks tools to adequately assess and monitor the proper application of the safeguard policies. In particular, this inadequacy relates to the conduct of Free Prior and Informed Consultation, the implementation of Indigenous Peoples Plan and the review of the borrower country legal frameworks on indigenous peoples as well as the need to require a stronger recognition of indigenous peoples land rights among others.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 affirmed that respect, protection and fulfillment of the collective rights of indigenous peoples are an integral part of international human rights standards. This underpins the need to re-align social safeguards for indigenous peoples with this human rights instrument. In this respect, several international institutions, as well as bilateral donors and private banking institutions standards have already mainstreamed the UNDRIP including the right to Free Prior Informed consent. International Financial Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group also adopted this principle. Indigenous peoples have long been demanding the World Bank to revise its policy to make it consistent with the UNDRIP.
We express serious concerns about the possibility of the policy being incorporated into a broader social safeguard policy, instead of retaining it as a stand-alone policy for indigenous peoples. Further, with the proposed Programme for Results (P4R) that may result to the application of safeguard policies only to Bank activities in certain sectors such as infrastructure development, we reiterate that safeguard policies have to apply to the entire World Bank activities, projects and programmes. If adopted in the current formulation, the P4R may also result in dilution of accountability, as well as social and environmental responsibility of the institution.
Given this context, the review of the Indigenous Peoples Policy is long overdue and further delay for another two years is unacceptable. Thus, we urge the WB to review the Indigenous Peoples Policy independently from the other safeguard policies. The Indigenous Peoples Policy should thereby be maintained as a stand-alone policy with the incorporation of the following elements:
1. The right to Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and ILO Convention 169, along with the recognition and respect of the rights of indigenous peoples.
2. The recognition of pastoralism as a livelihood and a lifestyle and the inclusion of pastoralist people as indigenous peoples in World Bank policies, in particular in the Indigenous Peoples Policy.
3. The recognition and respect of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation. In particular, no project shall take place in their territories.
4. The effective and immediate solution of the gaps and shortcomings of the implementation of OP4.0 based on the IP Policy Learning review, as described above.
We also urge the Bank to immediately draft the revised policy to include the elements listed above, and make it publicly available in multiple languages not later than December 2011. Likewise, the World Bank should conduct national, regional and global consultations. The revised Indigenous Peoples policy should be submitted to the Board of Executive Directors for its consideration by June of 2012.
Please click here to see the original letter sent to the World Bank on 17 October and sign this petition to add your support to our letter.