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Indigenous Rights

It is estimated that more than half of the minerals required for the energy transition are located on or near Indigenous Peoples’ territories. The sourcing of these minerals therefore entails risks to the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including their right to self-determination over their lands, resources and economic, social and cultural development, as recognised in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Automakers have the responsibility to ensure that these rights are respected throughout their supply chains.

One of the most important ways to ensure this is by respecting Indigenous Peoples’ right to provide their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) on projects and activities in auto-supply chains to be carried out on their lands and territories. This includes the right to meaningful dialogue and the right to say “yes” or “no” to a project, and is a process that Indigenous People-owned and led that companies engage in, rather than being owned and decided by companies.

“Consent” is the collective decision made by Indigenous Peoples, which is reached through customary decision-making processes. In order to comply with international standards on FPIC, consent must be:

  • Free – Consent is given voluntarily and without coercion, intimidation or manipulation. The process is self-directed by the community from whom consent is being sought and unencumbered by externally imposed expectations or timelines.
  • Prior – Consent is sought sufficiently in advance of any authorization or commencement of activities, and allows the time necessary for Indigenous Peoples to undertake their own decision-making processes.
  • Informed – Consent is properly solicited when Indigenous Peoples are given objective and accurate information related to the proposed activity in an accessible manner and form.

FPIC must be understood as a continuous process, in the sense that it should allow for consent to be withdrawn at any time and that it should ensure information is continually provided so as to meet the baseline for “informed.”

As with human rights due diligence processes in general, strong FPIC policies can also help automakers to mitigate brand and financial risks in their supply chains.

Automakers must commit to Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and require their suppliers to do the same. They should also develop effective due diligence processes in order to ensure that this commitment is realized across their supply chain.

What can automakers do?

  • Publicly commit, through their human rights policy and/or in a standalone indigenous rights policy, to respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples as established by the  United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent
  • Extend their commitments to the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their Tier 1 suppliers and beyond, for example through their supplier codes of conduct and / or responsible sourcing policies. This entails also providing additional information on the practices by which suppliers must obtain FPIC and requiring that any such processes to obtain FPIC reach and engage impacted Indigenous Peoples.
  • Put in place processes to assess risks to the rights of Indigenous Peoples impacted by their supply chains to the point of extraction.
  • Participate in multi-stakeholder groups such as IRMA that include the participation of Indigenous communities to promote and ensure respect for their rights.
  • Put in place processes to investigate, respond to and remedy breaches of FPIC in their supply chains that include a formal role for impacted Indigenous groups.