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Environmental Violence: Impacts on Indigenous Women and Girls

Carmen, Andrea

Environmental Violence was identified and defined in the “Declaration for Health, Life and Defense of our Lands, Rights and Future Generations” adopted by consensus by 52 Indigenous women and girls ages 14 to 92 from five regions at the 2nd International Indigenous Women’s Symposium on Environmental and Reproductive Health held in April 2012 in Chickaloon Village, Alaska.

“Environmental contaminants causing disease, birth defects and death are deliberately released into the environment because they are toxic to living things (i.e. pesticides), or as a result of industrial or military processes that are judged by States and corporations to pose an “acceptable risk” and “allowable harm.” States and corporations deny “provable” impacts despite the clear evidence that they cause a range of serious health and reproductive impacts which disproportionately affect Indigenous women and children. This constitutes “environmental violence” by States and corporations and must be identified as such by Indigenous Peoples and human rights bodies.”

This concept was formally recognized by a UN body in the report of the 2012 UNPFII EGM to the UNPFII 12th session. It was also included in the Lima Declaration from the International Conference of Indigenous Women in October 2013, which called for “zero tolerance” for any form of violence against Indigenous women and girls, including environmental violence.

The human rights framework affirming the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including Indigenous women and children, provides the context for addressing human rights violations caused by the deliberate exposure by States and corporations to toxic contaminants including pesticides, which are known to have devastating impacts on reproductive health.


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Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University

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Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
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December 15, 2017


This is a chapter from "Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace". The entire volume is available in Academic Commons at

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