October 7, 2013
First Nations appeal to United Nations over oil pipeline
A First Nations group is appealing to a special United Nations envoy to intervene in the joint assessment of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline and halt the project for allegedly breaching international human rights law.
“(The Yinka Dene Alliance) YDA respectfully calls upon the Special Rapporteur to intervene by communicating to the governments of Canada and British Columbia that they are in violation of (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) UNDRIP as a result of their behaviour in relation to the Pipeline, and by making recommendations as to the steps required to bring those governments into compliance with international law,” said the YDA in a written submission to the UN.
The document seeks the intervention of James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in response to the conduct of federal and provincial governments in relation to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.Anaya is making an official visit to Canada between Oct. 7 and 15th, to investigate the human rights situation of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
He will present findings and recommendations to the Canadian government and the UN Human Rights Council.
“YDA is seeking that its decision to disallow the Pipeline in YDA territories be recognized and respected by the Canadian and British Columbian governments,” said the UN submission.”
YDA is of the view that compliance with UNDRIP in these circumstances requires nothing less than acknowledgment by both governments that YDA and other First Nations have clearly refused consent for Enbridge’s proposed pipeline, and that the Pipeline must be rejected on that basis.”
The YDA claim that Canada has breached the UNDRIP by refusing to recognize and meaningfully incorporate their decision<0x2010>making authority into the assessment process for the pipeline.
In addition, it is alleged the BC government has violated the UNDRIP by issuing permits to Enbridge before any discussion of the pipeline was undertaken with the YDA.
“At this critical juncture, the Special Rapporteur can play an important role in assisting YDA to uphold our rights and give expression to the decision<0x2010>making authority that flows from our laws and unceded title,” said the UN submission.
“YDA believes that the intervention of the Special Rapporteur will have a significant impact in preventing further injustice by applying pressure on the federal and provincial governments to meaningfully engage with us and address the role of our decision<0x2010>making authority in relation to the pipeline.”
Enbridge proposes to construct and operate two pipelines, 1,170 km in length, between an inland terminal at Bruderheim, Alberta and a marine terminal near Kitimat, BC. About 500 km of pipeline will be in Alberta and 670 km in BC.
One of the pipelines will carry 525,000 barrels per day of crude oil west to Kitimat and the other line will carry 193,000 barrels per day of condensate east to Bruderheim.
The pipeline would cross about 50 First Nations’ territories and traverse more than 1,000 rivers and streams, including fish<0x2010>bearing streams of critical importance to Indigenous peoples such as the headwaters of the Fraser and Skeena Rivers.
The Joint Review Panel conducting the review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline completed the public input process in June.
The panel is currently preparing a recommendation report, which will be submitted to the Federal Government, through the Minister of Natural Resources.
The report will be made available to the public by Dec. 31 2013.
The final decision on whether or not to approve the proposed project will be made by the federal government.
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