Indigenous Peoples as Stakeholders: Influencing Resource-Management Decisions Affecting Indigenous Community Interests in Latin America
Multinational corporations and national governments who extract petroleum and other natural resources in Latin America often ignore the disastrous consequences resource development has on indigenous peoples, their habitats, and their traditional way of life. In order to reverse this trend, an indigenous peoples’ rights movement has emerged recently, seeking to equip indigenous groups with legal guarantees to safeguard their welfare. Although progress on the legal front has been promising, Gerald Neugebauer concludes that it has not yet accomplished enough, as there are numerous obstacles to effectuating strong human rights protections. He thus advocates adopting an alternative approach based on the stakeholder theory of corporate management—an approach that should result in greater participation and influence in resource management decisions for indigenous groups. In short, whereas human rights are articulated in abstract terms and rely on often ineffective government institutions for their enforcement, stakeholder arguments employ corporate terminology to inform petroleum companies directly as to why protecting indigenous interests is necessary to achieve conventional business objectives.