Chile Proposes World’s Largest Marine Reserve: But proposed and planned in isolation from Indigenous land owners…


This video features Marae Investigates reporter Mana Epiha (10 Mar 2013) in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) where the Chilean Government and International eNGOs (which includes the Pew Environmental Group) are progressing plans for the largest marine reserve in the world to engulf Rapa Nui – it’ll be more than 1 million square kilometres.

However the question is why haven’t they consulted the people of Rapa Nui?

The ILO Convention (169) on Indigenous and Tribal People in Independent Countries (a legally binding convention on States parties) is expressly clear about the obligations of states parties to safeguard and observe the rights of Indigenous peoples.

  • Obligation for States (Parties) to develop jointly with the interested people a coordinate and systematic action to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and to ensure their integrity (Article 2.1)
  • Require states to take measures that ensure the full realisation of the social, economic and cultural rights of indigenous peoples (Article 2.2a)
  • Convention implementation is to be implemented in consultation with indigenous peoples and their participation in the decision-making bodies which concern them (Article 6) [ref. 1]
  • Safeguard the environment of indigenous peoples (Article 4.1)States must also assess the environmental impact of any development activities and, in cooperation with indigenous peoples, take measures to protect and preserve the environment of the territories such peoples inhabit (Article 7.3 and 7.4)
  • Rights of indigenous people to use, manage and conserve the natural resources pertaining to the lands they occupy, and share in the benefits of state-owned natural resources (Article 15) [ref. 1]

There is also something called the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples… which is expressly outlines the obligation of states with respect to their Indigenous and tribal peoples.

This convention although while ‘only‘ a General Assembly Declaration, is not a legally binding instrument under international law, according to a UN press release:

“[it does] represent the dynamic development of international legal norms and it reflects the commitment of the UN’s member states to move in certain directions.”

This Declaration that is

“an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet’s 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalisation.”

was adopted by Chile on 13 September 2007 who voted in favour of it during the 61st regular session of the General Assembly. 

The purpose of the Declaration is to set out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

According to a summary document produced by socdev:

  • Seventeen of the forty-five articles of the Declaration deal with indigenous culture and how to protect and promote it, by respecting the direct input of indigenous peoples in decision-making, and allowing for resources, such as those for education in indigenous languages and other areas. 
  • The Declaration confirms the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination and recognizes subsistence rights and rights to lands, territories and resources. 
  • The Declaration recognizes that indigenous peoples deprived of their means of subsistence and development are entitled to just and fair redress. 
  • Essentially, the Declaration outlaws discrimination against indigenous peoples, promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, as well as their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development

What is more the same Socdev document on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that:

Many of the rights in the Declaration require new approaches to global issues, such as development, decentralization and multicultural democracy. Countries will need to pursue participatory approaches in their interactions with indigenous peoples that will require meaningful consultations and the building of partnerships with indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Rights Now! Stop Dams in Amazon!

Indigenous Rights Now! Stop Dams in Amazon! (Photo credit: International Rivers)

It would seem that nothing can get in the way of Pew’s drive to lock up the world’s oceans and marine environments, not even public international law stands a chance… But from Pew I am not surprised. However I am astounded at the behaviour of Chile!!

Other information on Rapanui (Easter Island) 

This video by David Attenborough finds a fascinating wooden figurine claimed to be of Easter Island origin. Follow his journey around the globe, following the leads that he finds.


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