[News] United Nations committee asks U.S. to investigate possible Line 3 treaty violations

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 3 10:34:21 EDT 2021

 United Nations committee asks U.S. to investigate possible Line 3 treaty
[image: Line 3 protestors]

People march to the headwaters of the Mississippi River in northern
Minnesota to protest against the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project.
(Photo by Darren Thompson, courtesy of Native News Online)
By Rob Capriccioso
<https://tribalbusinessnews.com/staff-directory/rob-capriccioso> -
September 2, 2021

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is
calling for what is purported to be a first-of-its-kind investigation of
treaty rights violations by the United States. The issue at stake pertains
to Native Americans affected by the ongoing Line 3 pipeline project in
northern Minnesota.

According to a letter written by committee chair Yanduan Li to Benjamin
Moeling, Chargé d’Affaires of the Permanent U.S. Mission to the United
Nations, Li is concerned about the possible mistreatment of Anishinaabe
citizens as a result of Canada-based Enbridge Energy’s tar-sands pipeline
reconstruction project.

If the violations are verified by the United Nations, the letter says it
would be a breach of the International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination, which has been signed and ratified by the

If the international law was proven to be broken, it would give Indigenous
people in the U.S. another tool to battle broken treaties and restore their
sovereign rights, according to several Native legal experts.

The committee is requesting information from the U.S. by Oct. 15 as it
conducts its investigation.

“The information received alleges that the decision of the Government of
the United States of America and of the State of Minnesota to permit the
expansion of a tar sands pipeline (‘Line 3’) has been conducted without
adequate consultation with and without obtaining the free, prior and
informed consent of the Anishinaabe indigenous peoples, despite the serious
harm such pipeline could allegedly cause,” Li wrote in the August 25 letter.

“It is further alleged that the ‘Line 3’ project would infringe the rights
of the Anishinaabe indigenous peoples, in particular by significantly
reducing their traditional source of food, the ‘manoonim’ wild rice, by
encroaching on their lands and sacred sites and increasing health risks
connected to environmental degradation, due to, in particular, air and
water pollution. Reportedly, this project would exacerbate the already
disproportionate impact of climate change on indigenous peoples in
Minnesota, putting at risk their watersheds and their wild rice ecosystem.”

“According to the information received, the ‘Line 3’ project would,
furthermore, increase the risk of violence against indigenous women,
including sex trafficking and sexual abuse, due to the significant influx
of workers and the establishment of camps composed of male workers. It is
also alleged that the intensified presence of law enforcement officials and
private security companies would increase the risk of excessive use of
force by members of the police and of these security companies against
peaceful protestors, in particular those belonging to the Anishinaabe

Li also expressed concern that domestic remedies available to Indigenous
people “do not provide a legal basis for addressing the underlying cause of
structural discrimination.”

“Consequently, lawsuits filed against ‘Line 3’ project by Anishinaabe
organizations have reportedly been rejected without duly considering its
impact on the human rights of the Anishinaabe,” Li wrote. “In addition, the
Committee has been informed that the usufructuary rights of Anishinaabe
indigenous peoples to hunt, fish and gather wild rice, among others, are
based on a series of treaties signed between the Anishinaabe and the
Government of the United States of America.”

Li added that the Anishinaabe reportedly “retain such usufructuary rights,
which have been upheld by a ruling of the Supreme Court of the United
States of America (Minnesota v. Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians, 526
U.S. 172, 1999).”

Li also recalled the U.S. support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples, which requires “free, prior and informed consent” over
such matters, and he said that steps should be “taken to suspend the
project until such consultations have taken place and free, prior and
informed consent has been obtained.”

The committee further wants assurances from the U.S. that it will protect
Indigenous livelihood, health and culture; prevent violence against
Indigenous women and protesters, and “guarantee the right of the
Anishinaabe indigenous peoples to an effective remedy with regard to
possible violations of their rights in the context of the permission and
construction of the ‘Line 3’ project.”

Li is asking the U.S. “to provide details on the status of the treaties
concluded between the Anishinaabe indigenous peoples and the Government of
the United States of America and on measures adopted to guarantee the
respect of the rights of the Anishinaabe under such treaties, in particular
their usufructuary rights as upheld by the Supreme Court’s ruling mentioned

Native American groups, including Honor the Earth and the Giniw Collective,
were made aware of Li’s call for an investigation on Aug. 31. They had
requested in March that the committee investigate the potential abuses and
treaty violations.

Organizers with the groups say that the investigation, which shines a
strong light on treaty rights and sovereignty, is a first for the committee
in its engagement with the U.S.

“When U.S. policy inadequately considers the rights of Indigenous Peoples,
international mechanisms such as the UN Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Descrimination are crucial to prevent the devastating impacts that
cannot be undone once they occur,” Kate Finn, executive director of First
Peoples Worldwide, a partnership between the University of Colorado Law
School and the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at Leeds School
of Business, said in a statement.

“The letter from the Committee plainly articulates the allegations of
rights violations attendant to Line 3 and the ways in which the actions of
the U.S. Government fail to respect those rights and, in turn, perpetuate
racial discrimination.
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