UN Fails Uncontacted Indigenous People

The UN’s flagship business initiative is being used as a tool to mask human rights abuses, according to Ayoreo in Paraguay.

Leaders of the tribe, some of whose members are still uncontacted, have written to the UN Global Compact saying they are ‘concerned and frustrated’ by the inclusion in it of a controversial Brazilian ranching company.

The company, Yaguarete Porá, was charged and fined for illegally clearing the Ayoreo’s forests, and concealing evidence of uncontacted Ayoreo living there. The Ayoreo have asked that it be expelled from the Global Compact.

The UN Global Compact was designed for companies ‘committed to aligning their operations with ten universally accepted principles,’ including respect for human and environmental rights.

A bulldozer clears forest belonging to Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Indians, Paraguay
A bulldozer clears forest belonging to Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, Paraguay

In its reply, the Global Compact has admitted that it has ‘neither the resources nor the mandate to conduct investigations into any of our participants’.

Yaguarete Porá won Survival International’s ‘Greenwashing Award’ in 2010 for ‘dressing up the wholesale destruction of a huge area of the Indians’ forest as a noble gesture for conservation’.

While some Ayoreo have been contacted by missionaries, a number remain hidden in the forest. But their land is being quickly destroyed to make way for cattle farming.

Yaguarete has angered the Ayoreo by promoting its membership of the UN Global Compact on its website, which the Ayoreo believe promotes a false image of corporate responsibility.

Survival International, founded in 1969 after an article by Norman Lewis in the UK's Sunday Times highlighted the massacres, land thefts and genocide taking place in Brazilian Amazonia, is the only international organization supporting tribal peoples worldwide. Contact Survival International at: info@survival-international.org. Read other articles by Survival International, or visit Survival International's website.