Upholding Indigenous Rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent:
An open statement in support of the Waorani’s landmark lawsuit in Ecuador
For centuries and across continents, indigenous peoples have protected their lands in the face of violence, displacement, and environmental destruction. Today there are 370 million indigenous peoples living in 87 countries across the world, and collectively they are the ancestral owners and current guardians of 25% of the land on earth, accounting for 37% of all remaining “natural land” on our planet.
With the threat of climate chaos already at our doorstep, continued indigenous guardianship of some of the most essential natural regions, like the Amazon, has never been so important. Yet instead of strengthening indigenous rights over their territories, we are witnessing governments and extractive industries threaten those rights and the traditional connection that indigenous peoples have with their lands.
We support the Waorani people’s landmark lawsuit in Ecuadorian court to defend and advance indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent and to self-determination. This watershed case is of great importance for the physical and cultural survival of the Waorani people and neighboring indigenous nations, and for the protection of millions of acres of highly biodiverse rainforest earmarked for oil drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
We express concern with any government or industry attempts to interfere with the integrity of the judicial process in Ecuador, and we encourage the Ecuadorian judicial branch to safeguard its constitution, uphold international obligations on free, prior and informed consent, and demonstrate the Court’s commitment to guaranteeing the rights of indigenous people’s as they protect the Amazon rainforest for their future, and ours.