Monday, October 18, 2010

Navajo Water Rights: Free, Prior and Informed Consent

Immediate Release: Contact: Elouise Brown, 505-947-6159 or 928-401-1777
THE HUMAN RIGHT OF THE NAVAJO PEOPLE TO FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT TO APPROVAL OF THE NORTHEASTERN ARIZONA WATER RIGHTS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT:

Update: Read, download or print the resolution: http://censored-news.blogspot.com/2010/10/navajo-water-rights-human-rights.html
DOODA DESERT ROCK AND THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE SPEAK TO THE ISSUE
The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission adopted Resolution No. NNHRCOCT-8-10 on October 1, 2010. It recommends that the Navajo Nation Council should refer the approval of the Northeastern Arizona Water Rights Settlement Agreement to the Navajo People in a referendum.

The resolution is based on consideration of several important factors, and among them is the “world standard” for decisions by indigenous peoples on their resources made by “free, prior, [and] informed consent” (Resolution at Preamble No. 6).

The right of free, prior and informed consent is a right that belongs to all indigenous peoples, including the Navajo People as a collective right to be exercised in the electoral process. The existence of the right as an international human right has been confirmed by the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations that was accepted by the Council. Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Progress report on the study of indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision making, ¶¶ 34-42, No. A/HRC/15/35 (23 August 2010); Human Rights Council, Human rights and indigenous peoples, No. A/HRC/RES/15/7 (5 October 2010).

The human rights principles are plain and clear:

• “Free” means done without undue influence or coercion and without regard to favoritism or promises and in an open and transparent way;

• “Prior” means done before the fact and without any binding obligation on the part of the Navajo People done by water negotiators, with side deals and promises that cannot be enforced or favors for approval by public officials;

• “Informed” means that those who make the decision, and it should be the Navajo People in a referendum vote, means that there is adequate, accurate information on the huge 400+ page document that Navajos or ordinary understanding, in their chapters and in the areas that will be affected by the agreement, know precisely what is being proposed and understand its implications and consequences as such impact their daily lives and futures; and

• “Consent” means a knowing act of freely making an informed decision about one’s own future and that of community and of Mother Earth in a meaningful way, namely a referendum vote.
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