20 Responsibility Issues
> Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

Introducing The Issue 

Globally, there are over 476 million Indigenous People living in over 90 countries. Historically, indigenous peoples have been disproportionately marginalised, dispossessed and exploited by a dominant society and denied basic political, social and cultural rights. Businesses often cite the need to meet market demands for raw materials as justification for infringing the rights of indigenous peoples and seizing their lands. Thus the rights of indigenous peoples are pressing concerns somewhere down the supply chain of almost all businesses and organisations. 

Questions To Answer 

Responsible 100 has developed some introductory questions to help you explore this important issue and your organisation's exposure to it. Please respond with as much relevant information as you can. Our current questions are available via this Google Form.


Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
A universal framework developed by the United Nations of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous Peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of Indigenous Peoples.

Forced Assimilation
An involuntary process of cultural assimilation of religious or ethnic minority groups during which they are forced to adopt language, identity, norms, mores, customs, traditions, values, mentality, perceptions, way of life, and often religion and ideology of established and generally larger communities belonging to dominant culture by government.

Forced Migration
A migratory movement which, although the drivers can be diverse, involves force, compulsion, or coercion.

Human Rights
Rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

Indigenous Peoples
Distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the land and natural resources where they live, occupy or from which they have been displaced

The act of placing a person or thing in a position of lesser importance, influence, or power; the state of being placed in such a position

The process by which a group of people, usually possessing a certain degree of national consciousness, form their own state and choose their own government.

Exploring The Issue

Indigenous peoples are distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live, occupy or from which they have been displaced. The World Bank estimates that there are over 476 million Indigenous Peoples making up 5,000 unique groups that live in over 90 countries.

Indigenous People’s right to self-determination and the protection of their land, culture and livelihood is protected by the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Despite this, indigenous peoples remain disadvantaged facing human rights abuses such as violence, forced migration and forced assimilation by governments and businesses around the world. They face marginalisation and discrimination in legal systems, which makes them more vulnerable to abuse.

Indigenous human rights advocates who call for change are frequently targets of state-sponsored harassment and violence. Additionally, they may be killed and physically assaulted simply for belonging to an indigenous group. Indigenous peoples have been accused of treason or terrorism for peacefully attempting to protect their cultural identity or exert authority over their ancestral lands, which are frequently abundant in resources and biodiversity.

As indigenous peoples often lack formal recognition over their lands, territories and natural resources, businesses have often found ways to exploit indigenous lands.

Outside of certain high risk sectors such as agribusiness and mining, forestry, biofuels, energy and tourism, businesses are unlikely to be intentionally participating in the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples although supply chain risks exist for practically all businesses irrespective of size, sector or location. 

Any business or organisation has the ability to support indigenous peoples through e.g. a related cause or campaign it chooses to support, by using its voice or any position of power to call out bad actors and encourage governments to respect the rights of indigenous peoples, by raising public awareness (e.g. through social media), by donating to indigenous peoples rights campaigns, and/or by purchasing goods and services from indigenous peoples.

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