Submission to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the Militarization of Indigenous Lands

On February 7, Amnesty International Canada proudly supported a submission by Gidimt’en land defenders to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the “Militarization of Wet’suwet’en Lands and Canada’s Ongoing Violations”.

Read the submission

Read the press release from Gidimt’en Checkpoint


The Expert Mechanism provides the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the rights of Indigenous peoples and carries out studies to advance the protection of Indigenous peoples’ rights. It recently issued a call for submissions for consideration in its report to the Human Rights Council on the militarization of Indigenous lands.

Article 30.1 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (UNDRIP) states that ‘military activities shall not take place on the lands or territories of Indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the Indigenous peoples concerned”.

The Expert Mechanism will consider a number of issues in its study, such as: what types of militarization occur on Indigenous lands throughout the world, the conditions that lead to militarization of Indigenous peoples’ lands, potential conflicts that could bring about increased militarization, how Indigenous peoples’ laws and customs – as well as international and national law – might facilitate peaceful resolution of conflict, and ways to facilitate constructive dialogue between States and Indigenous peoples.

Gidimt’en Hereditary Chiefs outline Canada’s human rights violations

Gidimt’en Hereditary Chiefs argue in their submission that the forced industrialization and police militarization of Wet’suwet’en land is a violation of Canada’s international obligations as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The submission documents the ways Canada has violated Wet’suwet’en rights to traditional territory (Article 26); life, liberty and security (Article 7); to govern their territories and to free, prior and informed consent (Articles 19, 32); to protect and conserve their lands (Article 29); to not be forcibly removed from their lands and territories (Article 10); and finally, to determine their own development priorities (Article 23).

The submission also examines the impact of industrialization – in this instance, the construction and operation of a fossil fuel pipeline – on Indigenous women, girls, Trans, and two-spirit people and the ways in which extractives projects lead to increased gendered violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The submission concludes by re-asserting that Canada and British Columbia must withdraw the RCMP and associated security forces from the territory, halt construction and suspend all permits related to Coastal Gaslink’s pipeline project. And it urges relevant UN Bodies to conduct a field visit to the territory.

The Expert Mechanism will introduce its report on the militarization of Indigenous lands during its annual session in July 2022; the final report will be presented to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-first session in September 2022.


Learn more about the Expert Mechanism on the rights of Indigenous peoples

Summary: Amnesty International’s Submission for the review of the 21st to 23rd periodic reports of Canada by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (January 2020)

Submission: Amnesty International Follow up Submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 2019)

Submission: Amnesty International’s Submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (July 2017)

Take Action

  1. Write a letter: Write to the Premier of British Columbia and the Federal Minister of Public Safety and ask them to respect the UN CERD’s recommendations by withdrawing RCMP officers, suspending CGL’s permits until consent is reached, and sitting down in good faith with Hereditary Chiefs.

2. Join a local divestment campaign: All 5 top Canadian banks are heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry and land defenders across Canada are calling on them to stop funding fossil fuel projects like pipelines. If you are a client at one of these banks, joining a divestment action in your community will send a powerful message about how your wish your money to be used. If you aren’t already connected to a divestment group in your community, here are some links to a number of groups:

Divest Canada
Oil Sands Divestment
Banking On a Better Future