Statement of Lawyers' Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP)
2016 Asia Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights, Doha Qatar
19-20 April 2016
Thank you Mr. Chairperson
Indigenous brothers and sisters,
In Nepal, various hydropower and infrastructure development projects have been operating in Indigenous Peoples' (IPs) land and territories. However, it is apparent that IPs have been facing severe problems due to business and corporate sectors activities. First and foremost is displacement from their traditional land, which could lead to negative impact on social, cultural and spiritual aspect of their life and livelihoods as IPs have deep social, cultural and spiritual attachment to the land and natural resources.
International human rights instrument on the rights of IPs such as; International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention no. 169 and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) have explicitly guaranteed the rights of IPs on their traditional land and territories. Although, Nepal is a party to these key instruments neither government nor business sectors have followed the rights guaranteed by these instruments. Free, Prior, Informed, Consent (FPIC), one of the key right of IPs is severely violated as they have not been consulted before commencing the projects in their areas. Similarly, United Nations has already endorsed Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights having three important pillars, protect, respect and remedy. Contrary to this, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy of the business enterprises do not comply with the minimum standard of UNGP.
Let me draw your attention to one of the hydropower project that has violated rights of IPs;
Kabeli hydropower project is one such project which has been operating in Panchthar district, eastern part of Nepal. It is expected to generate 37.6 MW electricity. Moreover, the project is estimated to build a14.3 meter high diversion barrage 2.5 KM from Kabeli River in Dhuseni village. But, IPs were not consulted to comply with the FPIC procedure and their consent whether they want the project. This is against the principle of self-determined development and human rights norms and values. Furthermore, project had adverse impact to the human rights of IPs. However, no effective remedies for victims have been provided.
Ironically, the project and investors of the project are reluctant to have fair and meaningful dialogues with the indigenous and local communities affected by the project.
I thank you Mr. Chair for your kind attention.