Given the repeated failure of corporate states to effectively deal with issues of major import like climate change, the proposal to shift leadership on climate adaptation to stateless nations merits serious consideration. As governing entities with a history spanning thousands rather than hundreds of years, they have had more time to reflect on effective governance and conflict resolution. As governing institutions that dwarf those of corporate states in terms of legitimacy, authenticity and integrity, they also are more immune to the corruptions and conflicts of interest readily apparent in state-centric decision-making.
While it is often argued that centralized states and exclusionary decision-making in state-centric bodies like the EU and UN is more efficient than the dispersed, consultative consensus-building typical of indigenous governance, one should look carefully at the results of concentrated power before endorsing it as the ideal governing process. Inclusiveness and power-sharing are one and the same; excluding those who are less powerful cannot result in anything but conflict and hostility.
Yet, there is no need to be unwieldy, given the propensity of indigenous nations to organize representative bodies from tribal councils to regional affiliations, national congresses and assemblies. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Nordic Sami Council, Assembly of First Nations, National Aboriginal Council, and National Congress of American Indians to name a few. Indeed, in the recent COP 15 debacle in Copenhagen, it was the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change that spoke with one coherent voice, while states and their corporate masters haggled over indigenous biodiversity resources they hoped to steal through carbon market trading.
Once citizens of corporate states no longer conflate power with leadership, we might finally be able to make some headway on human rights and climate change. Until then, it is up to indigenous nations to show us how it is done.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here