Indigenous Participation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the Green Energy transition: case study into Canadian (non)Compliance with International Human Rights Norms regarding Indigenous participation in the green energy transition

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The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples established a base level standard on Indigenous rights. This paper analyses Canada’s failure to comply with norms on Indigenous participation and the principle of free, prior and informed consent in the context of the green energy transition. Within this case study, process tracing is used to determine which mechanisms can explain the failure to comply. This paper finds evidence of a pattern of ‘over-compliance’ in Canada due to its roots in colonial ideas of sovereignty which are hindering progress towards Indigenous self-determination. This is evidenced by Canada’s support for progress in ‘soft’ rights while resisting change in ‘hard’ rights such as self governance. Further, this paper finds that increased state involvement in environmental impact assessments can induce meaningful Indigenous participation. Lastly, threats of reputational loss were not found to affect non-compliance, and evidence for an effect of discourse was too ambiguous to draw conclusions. This paper therefore argues that Canada’s ‘over-compliance’ caused by its settler-colonial history is preventing compliance with norms of Indigenous participation and the principle of free, prior and informed consent.
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