English translation from the official periodical of RAIPON “Мир коренных народов - живая арктика” (Indigenous Peoples’ World - Living Arctic) No. 15, 2004

See other articles on this topic:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Agreement between Primore RAIPON branch and the timber company “Terneyles”

P. Sulyandziga, 1st Vice-President of RAIPON
See also ANSIPRA Bulletin No. 10a (2003), p. 13; Bulletin No. 11-12 (2004) p. 25

An agreement on interaction and cooperation between the Association of Northern Indigenous Peoples of the Primorskiy Kray and the open joint-stock company “Terneyles” was signed in Vladivostok on 27 May 2004 .

This event was not noticed at Federal Russian level in any significant way (though it was an episode of great importance for the Primorskiy Kray), but it seems to me that the signing of such an agreement is a cornerstone on the way to a solid foundation of mechanisms to defend the rights and interests of indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation.

A lot of effort has already been made by indigenous peoples’ organizations, first and foremost by our regional and ethnic associations to solidify this foundation. To name a few, these are:

and many others. Not to mention the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrugs, where the actual point now is not the foundations, but the beginning of giving the already constructed buildings of cooperation the finishing touches inside.

Why would I like to share my experience of signing the agreement in the Primorskiy Kray? First, of course, because I know well enough the essence of what has happened. We have been paving the way to this agreement for more than ten years. It seems to me that one of the most important lessons of these relations is the mutual education of the parties. It all started, as usual in Russia , with a war, hostilities, and distrust. Second, many principle aspects are contained in the agreement which ought to be a guideline for negotiation between organizations of indigenous peoples and industrial companies. The main thing is that the signing did not take place under pressure of either of the parties or through force of circumstances, but by mutual consent.

What are the aspects of principle I wanted to emphasize? The signed agreement is general and specifies principles of our mutual relations. The agreement makes it possible for us to come to terms about signing four additional agreements. Three of them will deal with the development of concrete communities in three districts of the Territory where indigenous peoples reside and units of “Terneyles” operate. The fourth agreement will deal with the establishment of the development fund for Northern indigenous peoples in the Primorskiy Kray, with an annual contribution by the “Terneyles” company. It is important that additional agreements for the development of communities be elaborated and signed by communities and various subordinate units of the company, while the company undertakes obligations to follow international principles and standards in the field of defense of indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental protection.

The agreement also incorporates a paragraph taken from the recent decision of the Conference of the Parties, the Convention on Protection of Biodiversity about the obligatory nature of ethnological impact assessments while carrying out development projects of natural resources on indigenous peoples’ territories.

Further, I would like to point out that the “Terneyles” company has no operations in two out of the three districts, and it is not planning to operate on territories economically used by our communities. Its industrial operations go on in adjacent areas, and the company’s willingness to sign agreements with these communities is in recognition of the fact that in the past the entire territory was an area of traditional nature use and economic activities of indigenous peoples, and that indigenous peoples were forced to reduce their traditional activity under pressure of industry. In this connection, the company undertakes both moral and financial obligations. The fact that the company has included a paragraph about employing an adviser in the company to supervise the work with indigenous peoples provides evidence that the agreement is not simply a PR-action.

It serves as evidence of a long-term strategic approach to cooperation with indigenous peoples on the part of the company. There are various paragraphs in the prepared draft agreements with the communities dealing with hiring, social obligations, etc., but I believe that it would be better for the readers to get acquainted with the original texts of all the agreements, which hopefully will be published in our journal at a later date. In my opinion, various positive experiences like this are extremely important for our progress.