A Joint Submission of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), endorsed by 73 organizations globally (and counting), comprehensively details the substantive and procedural injustices of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing in relation to Indigenous peoples’ human rights. The executive summary and full text of Joint Submission are available online. Some of the injustices detailed include, among others:
- lack of full respect for international standards such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP);
- excessive reliance on national legislation;
- focus only on “established” rights under national legislation, which could lead to widespread dispossession and discrimination; and
- lack of full respect for Indigenous peoples’ procedural right to full and effective participation throughout the negotiations and in the final text of the Nagoya Protocol.
The executive summary of the Joint Submission closes by saying, “In relation to Indigenous peoples and local communities, the Protocol must be consistent with the principles of justice, democracy, equality, non-discrimination, respect for human rights and rule of law. The rights, security and well-being of present and future generations must be ensured.” The Joint Submission has been sent to the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity and to the 10th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, among others.
The Joint Submission is very well-researched and -written, raising important questions about the procedures of the United Nations systems at large and about the Nagoya Protocol specifically. It particularly emphasizes barriers to the realization of Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights to full and effective participation in decisions made on their behalf and that will impact their lives. These are of critical importance to the global and localized movements to secure communities’ rights to self-determination and others enshrined in UNDRIP. However, we also acknowledge that the Nagoya Protocol is a negotiated text that arose within the confines of a United Nations system (not without its own critiques). Certain gains were arguably made in the Nagoya Protocol and we hope to work towards cross-leveraging these gains with those made over time in various other international law- and policy-making fora to ensure that the highest standards of rights and responsibilities are upheld at all levels, and particularly at the local level where communities are impacted most directly.