UN rights expert urges US to halt North Dakota pipeline construction
UN rights expert urges US to halt North Dakota pipeline construction

[JURIST] A UN human rights expert on Friday urged the US government to halt the construction [press release] of the Dakota Access oil pipeline out of respect for the rights of affected Native Americans. Earlier this month the North Dakota pipeline’s construction was suspended [JURIST report] after the US Departments of Justice, Interior and Army [official websites] released a joint statement [text] stating the need to reconsider the pipeline’s effect on the neighboring Standing Rock Sioux Tribe [official website]. Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz stressed that the tribe should have been properly consulted during the initial stages of planning and construction. Tauli-Corpuz also denounced the intimidation and harassment of protesters and tribal leaders, stating that the US government must abide to international standards regarding the rights of indigenous people. In light of the current situation, Tauli-Corpuz called on the the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) [official websites] to work towards an amendment of the law requiring tribal consultation and consent for matters that effect Native Americans.

The rights of indigenous peoples remain a pressing international legal topic. In this case a federal judge had issued [JURIST report] a temporary injunction to halt building earlier this month, with the caveat that it would be superseded by his later ruling. In other indigenous matters, a federal appeals court in July rejected [JURIST report] Alaska’s challenge in a case determining the right of Alaskan tribes to place land in a federal trust. In May Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett stated [JURIST report] it would drop its objector status against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In April JURIST Guest Columnist Dwight Newman of the University of Saskatchewan discussed [JURIST op-ed] what is happening with recent leave decisions related to Indigenous rights and Canadian energy regulation. In March Canadian indigenous people, including Inuits of Nunavut and the Chippewa, were granted [JURIST report] an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, challenging the use of seismic testing to find natural gas under the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay. In February experts from the UN and the Inter-American human rights systems urged [JURIST report] Canada to address the “root causes” of the extreme violence and discrimination against indigenous women and girls in that country.