BIANCA JAGGER BACKS
NEW CAMPAIGN FOR WORLD'S TRIBES
'Alternative Nobel Prize' meeting, Salzburg, 13 June 2005
Bianca Jagger has backed a new campaign for the world's
governments to sign up to the main international law protecting
tribal people. At a meeting of the Right Livelihood Award (known
as the Alternative Nobel Prize) in Salzburg, Austria, Ms Jagger,
said, 'Many of the former colonial countries had policies which
resulted in the decimation of millions of indigenous people. They
continue to marginalise them by failing to agree to the main law
which would protect them. It is now time to take constructive
action. I call upon all countries to ratify ILO Convention 169
without any further delay.'
For the last 16 years, most governments have ignored the only
piece of international law concerned with protecting the rights of
indigenous and tribal peoples. Worse, there is currently a
movement amongst governments denying that any collective rights
exist, that only individuals have human rights. This is largely
unknown by the public and media.
Convention 169 recognises that tribal peoples have ownership
rights over their lands. This is crucial for their survival, yet
in many areas tribes are being evicted from their lands which are
taken over for
mining, oil exploration, ranching, dams or tourism. For example,
in Botswana the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari have been evicted
and dumped in bleak relocation camps they call 'places of death'.
This could not happen if 169 was applied.
The Convention also supports tribal peoples' right to control the
ways in which they adapt and change their ways of life,
educational and health systems, beliefs and so forth as their
circumstances alter in the future. Crucially, their right is also
recognised to be properly consulted before national laws are
passed which affect them and when development or other projects
are being proposed for their territories. For example, all the
inhabitants of Ecuadorian Amazonia are now suffering from the
invasion of oil companies which have been active there for decades
and have now destroyed and polluted much of the forest.
In Europe, only the Netherlands and Norway have ratified the
Convention. When asked why the UK has not agreed to it, the
government there says that it is not relevant because there would
not be tribal peoples in the country. Yet the UK is funding many
projects and many UK companies are
active in tribal areas all over the world. The same is true
throughout the EU. If the only reason not to ratify the Convention
is because a country has no tribal peoples, then it would cost it
nothing to agree to it.
ECOTERRA Intl. urges all governments to ratify the International
Labour Organisation Convention 169 on tribal peoples before they
clap on each others shoulders concerning the Millenium +5
deliberations. Most of the signed and agreed Millennium goals are
not on track and will not be achieved, but to sign the ILO
convention 169 is now long overdue.