Business’s effects on Indigenous aspirations and rights: An introduction . . . . . . Amy Klemm Verbos, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, USA
In accordance with Indigenous prophecies, 13 Indigenous grandmothers from several continents met and formed an International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers to bring Indigenous teachings and prayer to heal the world (Schaefer, 2006). Beginning in 2005, they held a cycle of 13 subsequent official gatherings, with each grandmother holding a gathering in her home place (International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, n.d.). The grandmothers offered a hopeful vision for mother Earth if we begin to remember our interconnectedness and the need to live in peace and harmony with each other and with nature (Schaefer, 2006). Nevertheless, the wisdom, knowledge, culture, spirit, and the very lives of the world’s approximately 370 million Indigenous peoples in about 90 countries remain at risk (see, for example, Reading, 2015). Following decades of discussion and negotiation, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) on September 13, 2007. The vote was 143 states for, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States opposed, and 11 states abstained (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine) (United Nations Human Rights, 2016). Australia, Canada, New
Zealand,1 and the United States subsequently changed their positions to support the DRIP, although future policy shifts are possible. The DRIP’s 46 Articles affirm, reaffirm, recognize, and acknowledge Indigenous peoples’ political, legal, economic, cultural, human, labor, land, spiritual, religious, language, and educational self-determination rights, other inherent rights, rights granted in international law or elsewhere, citizenship rights, cultural protection against forced assimilation, and a right to free, prior, and informed consent to matters that may affect them. Article 33 is of particular note, as it gives Indigenous peoples the right of self-identification, deciding through their own procedures who does or does not have membership in their institutions. For that reason, we do not define Indigenous peoples here, but defer to the United Nations approach instead. The legal status of Indigenous peoples as Indigenous within the countries in which they dwell has significant consequences with respect to their rights, as Kayseas et al. explain in Chapter 5. The DRIP acknowledges that Indigenous peoples have been systematically denied their rights the world over and calls upon states to support, protect, and defend them (United Nations, 2008). Indigenous peoples’ rights are often denied under color of law. States may act on behalf of, in concert with, or turn a blind eye to actions by business. Both legal and illegal actions quash Indigenous rights and aspirations in alarming ways throughout an increasingly global business environment. It is our intention not only to surface some of these issues but to offer some guidance to move toward more positive futures when business action intersects with Indigenous peoples’ rights under the DRIP. The United Nations (UN) Global Compact and its educational initiative, the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), present an institutional framework for voluntary action and a way to direct corporate attention toward this much neglected area of corporate social responsibility.