Liability of transnational corporations for indigenous peoples human rights violations

Report from Workabeba Bekele, Master Programme in Indigenous Studies, University of Tromsø Project 200700333-3

Methodological achievements
This study is devoted to indicate the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the current international law mechanism to bring the liability of TNCs for indigenous peoples human rights violations. The research question of this thesis is ‘where is the liability of TNCs for human rights violation of indigenous peoples?’ which will be analyzed in the domain of international law and international human rights law.

Using my exposure through the internship I have consulted different universities and other international organizations and public libraries and databases. Among from the list are: Pensilviania, Drexel University; New York, New York university, New York, UN Library; New York, the New York Public Library, the research libraries are consulted.

Varies discussion papers; working papers of consecutive four conferences held recently in 2006 on TNCs liability for human rights; reports of high officials such as the Reports of John Gerard Ruggie – the Special Representative for Business and Human Rights; and Rodolfo Stavenhagen – UN Special Rapporture on the Situation of Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples are also referred to support my study.

I also participate in different UNPFII staff meetings and discussion meetings with the UN Special Rapporture on the Situation of Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples held at the UN, New York during the duration of the internship.

Progress of the Research
The draft of my first chapter which deals with the background of the study, methodology used, and literature review has completed basically with the work of the thesis proposal before June 2007. It was the summer time, while my colleagues are leaving to filed work one by one; I started working on the second part of my thesis, which the draft is completed by 4 July 2007 and get its feed back in three days. I continued to deal with the comments and finalize in the same week.

The third chapter is where I intend to map the real violation of indigenous human rights by TNCs through analyzing practical cases. It evidenced the situation that business can in fact violate human rights as opposed to the classical international law view that only states are capable of violating human rights. Due to the particular concern of this study on TNCs violation of indigenous peoples human rights, finding cases that can explain the multifaceted faces of these violations was a big challenge. The draft text of the second chapter has completed before the end of July 2007. In a couple of days, it gets back with very precise comments.

While I was reading for the fourth chapter I got a response for my internship application at the United Nations Headquarters Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), New York, which feels me with excitement. I am located at the UNPFII under the supervision of Sonia Smallacombe, an aboriginal from Australia, Social Affairs Officer and the Chief Elissavet Stamatopoulou, originally from Greek, who have welcomed me very warm. PFII is composed of nine staff members with high consideration of regional balance. The PFII working environment is lead by the sprit of solidarity and transparency which is reflected by the Tuesday weekly meeting where every staff, and my self as an intern, presents the respective report concerning the progress of the work, share ideas, receive comments, and discuss challenges to each others.

Taking in to consideration the current UN and in fact world focus on climate change, environment and biodiversity, UNPFII is currently working on indigenous peoples contribution to world biodiversity and the protection off traditional knowledge. Accordingly I have completed my first assignment to prepare a draft position paper on ‘Access, Benefit Sharing and Traditional knowledge’ based on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and from indigenous peoples rights perspective. Currently, I am working on the preparation of the ‘world indigenous peoples report’ which is expected to be issued in 2009 or earlier.

Back to my thesis work, the internship and working at the UN have opened me the exposure to participate in different meetings which are relevant to my thesis in particular and my carrier at large; and exposed me to the UN Library other libraries in the neighborhood universities. Accordingly I used reference to different journals and books to work on the fourth chapter. The draft of this chapter dealing with the regulatory challenge posed by the current international law in bringing TNCs’ liability for human rights has completed by the 3rd of December 2007 and forwarded to Prof. Ande Somby for his valuable comments.

Currently I am looking forward the response of my supervisor on the fourth chapter, and meanwhile I am reading and preparing my self to go on the next chapter.

Plans for what is left
I have left with relatively smaller two more chapters besides the conclusion and recommendations. Other things being equal, I am planning to finish the draft of the fifth chapter by the 20th of January and the six chapter including conclusions and recommendations by the end of February. Hence that draft of all chapters will be available on the first week of March.

I often had communication and discussion with my supervisor, Prof. Ande Somby, about how it should goes and about what I have already done and would like to appreciate his valuable comments and support for my thesis and in every related issues.

Use of funding
Had it not been for the financial grant of Sami Center and SEMUT, this thesis work would have luck the valuable information collected through participatory observation and other documents collected from different universities and UN libraries in New York. My internship at the UNPFII would also be a dream had it not been for your funding which I am using it to pay my rents, to cover transportations and other living expenses including membership fees for libraries. Hence I am very thankful and appreciate it

Read the thesis online – Munin

About Siri Johnsen

Hovedtillitsvalgt for Akademikerne UiT, Norges arktiske universitet, januar 2006-januar 2017
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