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Development vs. Indigenous Rights a false dichotomy

August 2011

Amnesty International released a report on indigenous rights this week called “Sacrificing Rights in the Name of Development: Indigenous Peoples Under Threat in the Americas,” which exposes the impact of development projects throughout the continent. In its own words: 

The false and dangerous dichotomy of “development vs. Indigenous peoples’ rights” is widespread in the continent. It is based on the flawed argument that extractive or other development projects that serve national interests by increasing national wealth and generating jobs cannot be “obstructed” by Indigenous peoples who are “just” a fraction of society. Thus, when Indigenous communities organize themselves to demand respect for their rights, the state and other actors accuse them of blocking the growth of the entire country. This response has had devastating consequences for the human rights of Indigenous peoples in the region.

The report provides specific accounts of the impact of development projects from Argentina to Canada, including the United States.

In the current context of a climate crisis, the incursion of development projects on indigenous lands and territories not only sacrifices their livelihoods, but poses irreparable damage to the planet. As indigenous peoples tell us, to live well and not to live better is the sustainable path that allows all humanity to develop.

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