The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from September 2007 affirms that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples. The resolution also affirms that indigenous peoples contribute to the diversity of cultures and that they must not to be discriminated against due to their traditions and the exercise thereof.
The declaration furthermore notes that indigenous peoples were subjected to historic injustices for example as a result of colonialization. The declaration acknowledges indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, the right to the resources in their territories and the right to restitution or compensation for stolen lands, territories and resources.
Today, key sections of the declaration have the status of customary international law and are therefore binding. This includes for example indigenous peoples’ right to consultation and cooperation. This means that the free and informed consent of indigenous peoples must be sought in advance of any administrative and legislative measures that might directly affect them.
In the early 20th century, today’s Namibia was a German colony. The Namibian population was massively and systematically discriminated against. Oppression, violence and land grabbing were widespread. ECCHR is working to address colonial crimes in Namibia and Germany’s colonial past.
Big energy companies disrespect human rights and environmental protection time and again – as in the case of Électricité de France in Oaxaca, Mexico. The problem: wind power stations are planned on the territory of the indigenous Unión Hidalgo community. EDF is trying to secure a construction authorization from the Mexican state – but until now, the indigenous group was not effectively consulted.
Border Timbers Limited, a company owned by European investors, challenged the Zimbabwe government’s expropriation of its timber plantations in national and international forums. Indigenous communities, supported by ECCHR, have tried to assert their rights in these proceedings.
Since the 1970s, the Western Sahara region has been militarily occupied by Morocco. Morocco thus violates the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people. Since 2018, ECCHR has been investigating if Germany is complying with its international obligations concerning the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination.