Throughout the world, indigenous communities are fighting legal battles against the State and multinational corporations. At issue is the ownership of resources. Indigenous communities claim their traditional legal right to their land includes mineral and other resources. States implement policies under the guise of national interest — which includes granting licenses to multinational corporations to exploit these resources on indigenous land.
Peter Donigi, Papua New Guinean lawyer and land owner, presents in Indigenous or Aboriginal Rights to Property: A Papua New Guinea Perspective an analysis of the legal basis of this conflict.
Disenfranchised communities throughout the world, from the Saami in Nordic countries to Aborigines in Australia, will value his vigorous research into national, colonial and international law pertaining to aboriginal rights. A number of primary sources, including British and German colonial rulings on the development of mining activities, are reproduced as appendices.
The author argues that mining and petroleum activities in Papua New Guinea are unconstitutional and legally invalid. Only 3% of the land is owned by the government, but it has granted CRA, RTZ through Kennecott, BHP (Australia) Limited, MIM Holdings, Metallgesellschaft AG through Metal Mining Corporation, Newmont, Renison Gold Fields Consolidated, Placer, Chevron, Mobil, British Petroleum, Santos and many others licences to explore and exploit land belonging to traditional owners. If Peter Donigi's legal opinion is accepted, the constitutional and legal validity of all of these licenses will be affected.
The recognition that land rights includes sub-surface and above-surface resources has implications beyond the Papua New Guinea situation. In the light of the successful completion of the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations and the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, the time is ripe to create instruments for surveying and registering the land of indigenous peoples in their name. Shouldn't this be a prerequisite for the World Bank and other agencies to granting aid, as are human rights and the right to multi-party free and fair elections?
Actual cover shown.
INDIGENOUS OR ABORIGINAL RIGHTS TO PROPERTY: A PAPUA NEW GUINEA PERSPECTIVE by P
Intl Books - 1994