By DANIEL A. MEDINA
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe took its fight to stop construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday in a bid to gather international opposition to the project.
Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II addressed the 49-member Council in a brief two-minute testimony where he called “upon all parties to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
Archambault said the U.S. government had failed to abide by signed treaties with the tribe — referring to the 1851 Treaty of Traverse de Sioux and 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, two legally-binding treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate that recognize the Sioux’s national sovereignty.
“The oil companies and the government of the United States have failed to respect our sovereign rights,” Archambault said.
The chairman spoke as part of a United Nations Human Rights Council hearing on indigenous rights that featured more than three dozen tribes from around the world concerned with infringement on their lands by corporations and governments.
“I am here because oil companies are causing the deliberate destruction of our sacred places and burials,” said Archambault. “Dakota Access Pipeline wants to build an oil pipeline under the river that is the source of our nation’s drinking water.”
In Geneva, Archambault and other tribe representatives met with two UN ambassadors — including Keith Harper, the U.S. representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council — and experts on indigenous rights.
Archambault also formally invited Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N,’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to visit Standing Rock — a visit that would require approval from the Obama administration.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, which is already more than half completed, is a massive $3.7 billion project that would transport 470,000 barrels of oil a day across four states from the oil fields in Stanley, North Dakota, near the Canadian border, to Patoka in southern Illinois, where it would link with other existing pipelines.
Related: Judge Denies Request to Halt Pipeline, But Government Steps In
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe see the pipeline as an environmental and cultural threat to their homeland. They say an oil spill would permanently contaminate the reservation’s water supply and that construction of the pipeline would destroy lands where many of their ancestors are buried.
The project is financed by the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which claims it will bring millions of dollars into local economies and create an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs. Read full story by clicking HERE
Featured image: Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, waits to give his speech against the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access oil pipeline during the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on Sept. 20, 2016. DENIS BALIBOUSE / Reuters