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The Art of Passing the Buck

14.09.2009
How are the claims of Indigenous peoples dealt with by states and corporations?

Rebecca Lawrence, in her PhD dissertation in Sociology presented at Stockholm University on Friday September 11, illustrates that both states and corporations attempt to ignore Indigenous peoples' rights (urfolksrättigheter) by claiming that responsibility for protecting those rights lies with the other party.

Using case studies from countries such as Australia, Sweden and Finland, and also drawing on examples from parts of Asia, including Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Lawrence's research demonstrates how companies and states play the game of 'passing the buck' in order to avoid taking responsibility for Indigenous peoples' claims.

"For example, when faced with protest from a Saami community over a windpower project a public authority will often say to the community ' this is not our responsibility - you need to speak to the developer' (verksamhetsutövare). At the same time, private developers will often respond to Saami claims by saying 'responsibility for the protection of Saami rights does not lie with us, this is the government's responsibility'. So it's a catch 22." Says Lawrence.

"Moreover, where is the line between what we think of as 'the state' and of 'the market' when national governments directly benefit from privately financed recourse extraction activities on Indigenous lands and the state is often a direct investor in resource projects through state owned enterprises?" Continues Lawrence

The Phd is made up of four articles (of which 3 are published in internationally peer reviewed journals). The articles explore conflicts over Indigenous rights in the forestry sector in Finland, the windpower industry in Sweden, the provision of welfare services in Australia and the global investment banking sector.

Title "Shifting Responsibilities and Shifting Terrains: State Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Indigenous Claims

Contact: Rebecca Lawrence; +46-70 695 6931; lawerence@sociology.su.se
Pressofficer: Maria Erlandsson; maria.erlandsson@kommunikation.su.se; +46-70 2308891

Press photos: press@su.se

Maria Erlandsson | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se

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