After about a decade and a half of much deliberation, the UN has finally adopted the Resolution on the rights of indigenous people on the September 13, 2007 in its 107th plenary meeting.
Is it known to Sikkim?
As per history and the Supreme Court of India, the Lepchas are the original indigenous people of this land. They are entitled to the rights declared by the UN, as India is a signatory to this Declaration. Looking at the present scenario on Dzongu and the hydel power project development programme, it would be interesting to juxtapose some of the articles of the rights declared by the UN with the protest movement started by Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT).
Indigenous peoples have the right to self determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their land, territories or resources.
Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and where possible, with the option of return.
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social system or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities.
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions.
Indigenous people have the right to the land, territories and resources which they have owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
Indigenous people have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their land, territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination