Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in the Petroleum Sector

8. Indigenous People's Rights

In past cases, foreign investments in oil and gas resources are prone have generated disputes and conflicts with indigenous peoples, particularly where there is a legal vacuum in national laws on recognition and protection of indigenous people’s land, self-governance and cultural rights. The investment in question may be protected by an international investment agreement and related investor/State dispute settlement process to which indigenous people have no access.

A measure of dispute avoidance and prevention recommended by United Nations treaty bodies and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is the introduction of a policy at the regulator level compelling companies domiciled in their jurisdictions to prevent, sanction and remedy violations of indigenous peoples’ rights for which those companies are responsible or in which they are complicit. Settlement of disagreements through negotiations between States during bilateral or other agreements and before foreign companies are accepted for business is another such recommendation. These consultations may mean that the indigenous peoples are given the opportunity to share the benefits of sub-surface resource exploitation activities.