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Urge UN Special Rapporteur to Recommend Reform to Protect Indigenous Communities

(véase la acción en español)

On July 20, 2013, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya met with community representatives in the Ngäbe-Buglé territory in Panama to learn firsthand about the human rights threatened by the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam.

The Barro Blanco dam is registered under the Clean Development Mechanism, a carbon offsetting scheme established under the UN climate framework. The CDM has no standards for human rights or indigenous rights, nor does it have a way for communities that are negatively affected by CDM projects to register complaints.

Mr. Anaya will present a report with his findings and recommendations on the issues examined during his mission, including the human rights violations against the indigenous people affected by Barro Blanco.

Sign the letter to urge Special Rapporteur Anaya to include in his report recommendations (below) to the CDM and to the Panamanian government to respect human rights for development projects that generate social and environmental impacts, with particular attention to indigenous rights.


Recommendations to the CDM:

  • establish international safeguards to protect human rights for project registered under the CDM;
  • strengthen requirements on how to conduct local consultations with stakeholders parties;
  • establish an adequate and effective grievance process that allows affected peoples and communities to raise concerns about harms and violations associated with CDM projects; and
  • develop criteria and a process to deregister projects where there are violations of CDM rules.

In the implementation of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project, the Panamanian state has violated the rights of impacted indigenous communities to free, prior and informed consent, and threatens to violate their right to their land and traditional territories. The Environmental Impact Assessment for the project was inadequate, was undertaken without adequate consultation, and failed to address the distrinct the social or environmental impacts and risks to the Ngäbe-Buglé territory.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is a mechanism through which developed countries can receive credit for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through financing the implementation of projects in developing countries. As Special Rapporteur and as part of his mandate, Mr. Anaya is in a unique position to give advice and recommendations to UN-related mechanisms – like the CDM – that affect the rights of indigenous peoples, and thereby help to stop and prevent human rights violations.