United Nations Expert, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, released a statement yesterday calling upon the United States to immediately halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, in recognition of dire and direct threats to the drinking water, burial grounds and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux people.
The pipeline also directly endangers traditional lifeways and practices, and the health and wellbeing of current and future generations. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and thousands of allies from across the United States and the world have been taking direct action since April 2016 to call attention to the violation of their Indigenous rights, desecration of their lands and waters and the threats to our global climate engendered by the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The 1,172 mile pipeline, being pushed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Energy Transfer LLC Corporation, is proposed to pass under the Missouri river and Lake Oahe, a vital source of the tribes drinking water and ceremonial practice.
In her statement, Ms Tauli-Corpuz drew attention to blatant violation of treaty rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples and other international legal standards requiring the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before the approval of any project affecting their lands.
She called for immediate attention to the ongoing persecution, intimidation and harassment of the many protectors gathered on the ground in Standing Rock to directly oppose the pipeline and present alternative visions for a just and healthy world.
Ms. Tauli-Corpuz’s call for the United States government to take action to halt pipeline was endorsed by other United Nations Experts, including:
- Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst
- Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Léo Heller
- Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Mr. John H. Knox
- Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai
- Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, Ms. Karima Bennoune
- UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Baskut Tuncak
- Current Chairperson of the Working Group on business and human rights, Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga
During his recent appeal to the United Nations, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II invited Ms Tauli-Corpuz to visit Standing Rock and witness for herself the escalating violations against Indigenous peoples and the land and water of the region.
“The UN Expert got it right,” said Tom Goldtooth, the Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “What the US calls consultation is not consultation but a statement telling people what they’re doing after millions of dollars have been invested, painting Indigenous Peoples as spoilers. The right of free, prior and informed consent begins prior to the planning process, not when their bulldozers are at your doorstep.”