Dec 08, 2010

UNPO and MRG Bring Discussion Of Minorities and Natural Resources to the United Nations

The Minorities and Natural Resources conference, jointly hosted by UNPO and Minority Rights Group International, will shine a spotlight on the suffering minorities experience as a result of large-scale natural resource exploitation.


On 14 December, 2010 in the Palais des Nations (Geneva, Switzerland), the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization will host a conference in conjunction with the 3rd Session of the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues. The conference, co-hosted by Minority Rights Group International, will focus on the topic of minorities and natural resources, shining a spotlight on the suffering experienced by minorities as a result of large-scale natural resource exploitation in their regions, and offering paths towards meaningful minority participation in processes governing natural resource development projects which would affect their lives and livelihoods.


Natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Population growth, expanded agricultural settlement, increasing trade, investment and economic activity all place pressure on limited resources. Many minority populations occupy territories far from the centers of political and economic power, which are often the first places to be exploited for their resources given their lack of political power to oppose such actions. As resources become increasingly scarce, governments have rushed with increasing urgency to discover and exploit resources found in such peripheral lands under their control. Decisions to exploit these resources are often taken without meaningful consultation of the local population.


While these communities bear the economic costs of this development, they rarely share in the profits from such ventures. Minority communities often strongly oppose natural resource development projects on the grounds of the economic devastation that can result. However, these groups face a myriad of obstacles to their meaningfully participation in the management of natural resources found in their home communities. Through minority case studies and expert contributions, this conference will attempt to raise some of the major issues facing minorities affected by natural resource development projects, as well as to identify some possible ways forward.


Draft Programme [subject to change]


 Maggie Murphy

Programme Manager, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO)


Opening Remarks

Mark Lattimer

Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International


Balochistan's Conflict Resources

Senator Sana Ullah Baloch* 

Balochistan National Party


The Uyghurs of East Turkestan:  An Impoverished People in the Midst of Natural Wealth

Kathy Polias* 

World Uyghur Congress

Undying Conflicts Over Natural Resources Among Pastoralist Communities in Kenya

Jane Meriwas**

Founder of Samburu Women for Education & Environment  Development Organization (SWEEDO)


The Potential and Challenges of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Lessons for Others

 Christoph Wiedmer 

 Director of Society For Threatened Peoples-Switzerland


Discussion & Questions


Closing Remarks


* at the invitation of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

** at the invitation of Minority Rights Group International