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The UK’s Liberal Democrats pledged to sign ILO Convention 169 on the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples at the party’s annual conference last week.
In its policy paper, Our Natural Heritage, the party pledged to sign the Convention if they win the next general election, adding that ‘in doing so we will strengthen its overall force and commit British companies and bodies working overseas to basic standards of consultation, ensuring that Indigenous peoples have a say in projects that affect them’.
The party also promised to ‘ensure that carbon financing for avoided deforestation cannot be made available in countries where the rights of Indigenous peoples are not adequately protected.’
ILO 169 is the only international law for tribal peoples, recognizing their land ownership rights and setting a series of standards regarding consultation and consent. Recognizing and protecting tribal peoples’ land rights is not only the key to their survival, but also crucial in the battle to save the world’s rainforests. The most effective way to protect the rainforest is to protect the rights of those who have looked after it for generations.
The current UK government refuses to sign ILO 169 on the basis that there are no tribal peoples living in the country. However, this ignores the impact of British companies working in tribal areas. A current Early Day Motion calling on the government to sign the Convention has generated over 90 signatures to date.