The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has agreed with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the nearly 200 other tribes that say the Dakota Access oil pipeline’s route was mapped out without adequate consultation.
“The project was proposed and planned without any consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux or others that will be affected by this major project,” said Chairman Alvaro Pop Ac, in a joint statement with Forum members Dalee Dorough and Chief Edward John.
The U.N. body went on to outline the $3.8 billion project’s parameters and the threat to security and drinking-water access for not only the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe but also for millions of people living downstream from the Missouri River, which the pipeline would cross.
“Given these circumstances, we call on the government of the United States to comply with the provisions recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensure the right of the Sioux to participate in decision-making, considering that the construction of this pipeline will affect their rights, lives and territory,” the statement said, quoting Article 19 of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault II and the International Indian Treaty Council issued an urgent appeal to the United Nations on August 18 asking for intervention on the grounds that their right to consultation as specified in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples had not been adhered to.
The tribe’s request coincided with a declaration of emergency across several counties by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, as well as unsubstantiated claims by a local sheriff that pipe bombs, molotov cocktails and other potentially dangerous implements had been spotted. The Forum’s statement did not outright reference local authorities’ unfounded allegations of potential violence in the three prayer camps that have attracted a few thousand people over the past two weeks. But it did add another perspective to potential public perception about the camps.
“Actions such as these tend to occur in different parts of the world and are often misunderstood and described as rebellious, backward thinking and unilateral opposition to development,” the three said in their statement. “Therefore, we call on the United States government to establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process to resolve this serious issue and to avoid escalation into violence and further human rights abuses.”
Pop Ac, Dorough and John described the spiritual connection as well.
“For Indigenous Peoples, the environment is a living entity that contains our life sources as well as our sacred sites and heritage,” the statement said. “The environment is an important part of our lives and any threats to it impacts our families, ancestors and future generations. It is therefore imperative that the United States respects and recognizes the intrinsic, inter-related rights of Sioux and their spiritual traditions, history, philosophy, and especially their rights to their lands and territories. The world is watching what is happening in North Dakota.”