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Michael Penders addresses UN Human Rights Conference,
Calls for greater Self Governance, Democracy, Rule of Law
for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and South Asia.
United Nations Palace of Nations, Geneva, March 2012.

Swan off Montreux Mr. Penders stated: "On behalf of people living in disputed territories, such as those in Gilgit Baltistan and greater south Asia, we advocate that all parties to conflicts hold harmless and take action to assure the safety and security of natural resources in the region. This must include the legal right of indigenous people to the sustainable development of those resources in the future.

At a minimum, any party seeking to develop resources in disputed regions or those in conflict must comply with all Environmental Laws, UN Conventions, Resolutions, other international and national laws which apply to such activities. This includes addressing state, regional, and local authorities with access and rights to natural resources, as well as those empowered to make decisions impacting the environment.

Moreover, especially in disputed lands, other nations and global corporations have a heightened responsibility to implement Recognized Best Practices and meet standards they ascribe to in their homelands and other parts of the world. These include international standards for assuring compliance and managing the safety, security and sustainability of operations and surrounding communities, such as ISO 28000 and IS0 14000.

Fundamental to any notion of Democracy and legitimate Rule of Law, is meaningful participation and consent of the governed. Environmental Law in particular requires that impacts to people and the environment be identified and evaluated before any project affecting natural resources is approved.

Permits for development projects should incorporate enforceable agreements providing for worker safety, protecting the environment, education, and building sustainable communities. These agreements, built into the license or permit to build or operate, should be monitored for compliance and effectiveness.

After all, it is the indigenous people of a region in conflict, including their communities and culture, who must be considered the prime stakeholder in development decisions. They have the first and best claim to ownership of natural resources in the region, and a vested interest in the future.

All of international and environmental law requires they be heard before critical decisions are made. Rights to sustainable development by indigenous people must be respected in times of dispute and conflict most of all, or they may be lost forever."

Contact: Michael Penders mpenders@esisecurity.com


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