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13th Session of UNPFII: African Caucus responds to the World Bank on the Safeguard review process

Mr Kanyinke Sena delivers the African Caucus’ response
The African Caucus would like to raise the following two issues of concern in regards to Indigenous peoples of Africa.
First, Indigenous peoples in Africa are alarmed with new developments unfolding in the World Bank safeguard review process. Recent statements made by Mark King, Head of Safeguard Review, suggest that the World Bank is reluctant in applying its ‘Stand- alone policy for Indigenous peoples’ in Africa due to the concerns raised by a few governments in relation to the term ‘Indigenous’.

It is important for the Bank to note the following:
  • The vast majority of African countries supported the adoption of the Declaration, with no objection raised to the term ‘Indigenous’;
  • Several countries have taken legislative steps in recognizing Indigenous peoples on the continent;
  • The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights recognizes the term ‘Indigenous’ and subsequently the collective rights of Indigenous peoples, including pastoralist and hunter-gatherer communities;
  • Jurisprudence on the specific rights of Indigenous peoples have been developed in national and regional courts;
  • All Heads of State of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) recently institutionalized, in an official manner, the recognition of pastoralists as Indigenous peoples.

The World Bank should therefore support what is today broadly accepted throughout Africa, rather than reversing the trend.
In the same line, the African Development Bank should also align its thinking with that of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and work more towards the recognition and respect of the rights of Indigenous peoples in Africa.
Second, Indigenous peoples of Africa have recently been made aware of what has been dubbed the Billion Dollar Map. In February 2014, the World Bank announced a $1 Billion Fund to map Africa’s mineral resources by using satellites and airborne surveys. The Bank has pledged $200 million toward the fund, and hopes that governments and mining companies will provide the remaining $800 million. Several developed countries have expressed initial interest in supporting the fund, and it is expected that eventually mining companies will contribute as well.
Despite the potentially profound ramifications of the project, little is currently known about the proposed fund beyond brief reports in several news outlets.
The impacts of extractive industries on Indigenous peoples are well documented. These include significant environmental, social and cultural effects leading to the loss of traditional livelihoods, threats of food security and cultural survival. These impacts can lead to severe conflicts with communities, up to and including war.
Despite these entrenched issues, there has been no mention of the creation of procedures for communities to be involved in the process of creating the Billion Dollar Map, nor how subsequent increases in mining would uphold social and environmental safeguards and international legal norms. Further, there are no indications that lands and waters traditionally used or occupied by communities will be marked on the map.
  • As Indigenous peoples of Africa, we call on the World Bank, African governments, investor governments and the private sector to end this lack of transparency and share all relevant information pertaining to the Billion Dollar Map;
  • We would also like to know how commitments to international norms and standards, in relation to the rights of Indigenous peoples, will be recognized and respected;
  • Given that most of the mineral wealth is found in Indigenous territories, Indigenous representatives need to be appropriately represented in the mapping process.

Finally, we would like to make our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world aware of the fact that similar mapping initiatives are likely to be launched in other parts of the world. Already Paolo de Sá, Manager of the Oil, Gas, and Mining Unit at the Bank stated that the obvious next step would be to create another fund to come up with an integrated map of South American mineral resources.

16 May 2014

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