BBT Urges US President to Help Protect Indigenous Peoples

Church of the Brethren Newsline
Aug. 13, 2010

In a letter dated Aug. 6, Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has urged President Barack Obama to lead the US government in supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The letter, signed by BBT president Nevin Dulabaum and Steve Mason, BBT’s director of socially responsible investing activities, suggests that companies may be more encouraged to protect the rights of these small, native groups in their corporate policies if the US government shows more support for the measure. Additionally, the letter says, “We believe that the merits of endorsing the Declaration…would strengthen the United States’ position as an advocate for human rights worldwide.”

The declaration, adopted by the UN General Assembly in Sept. 2007, affirms that “indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be represented as such.” The US voted against the resolution.

BBT has identified the declaration as a guideline that echoes Brethren values, and has advocated for companies in which it owns shares to adopt corporate policies that reflect the declaration. In May, Mason represented shareholders of ConocoPhillips in talks with the oil company regarding its commitment to indigenous peoples’ rights around the world. BBT has been engaged with ConocoPhillips for more than five years on this issue and continues to meet with representatives of the company.

To read the full letter, go to . Find the UN declaration at .

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

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