Human Rights Due Diligence and Indigenous Peoples

Land, consent and compensation issues are often at the heart of grievances and conflicts between companies and indigenous peoples. These do not necessarily begin as security-related conflicts, but any dispute or grievance has a risk of turning into a security and human rights issue. The drastic increase in attacks and acts of violence against, intimidation of and threats aimed at indigenous peoples at the hands of security providers working on company operations is indicative of how conflicts can escalate.  

Effective human rights due diligence policies that carefully include indigenous peoples in dialogues can prevent such conflicts. To mitigate risks effectively, companies should ensure appropriate expertise and procedures on indigenous peoples and consider the need for supplementary external expert advice, including from indigenous experts. Companies should ensure that compensation for losses based on damage to or loss of land for indigenous people accounts for intangible value associated with sacred sites or areas of cultural significance.  

In addition to mitigating risks, companies should take positive steps in communities, for example, by investing in programmes that will mitigate impacts related to a loss of social networks, cultural erosion and/or loss of language. If disruption to indigenous peoples is unavoidable, companies should seriously consider not carrying out the project. The Danish Institute for Human Right’s indigenous Peoples Due Diligence Checklist offers guidance and support for companies on how to ensure indigenous peoples are included in due diligence processes.  

Source: Respecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Due Diligence Checklist for Companies (Danish Institute for Human Rights 2019)