Advertisement

The ‘Inalienable Right’ to Nuclear Energy Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Indigenous Rights of Consultation, Self-Determination and Environmental Protection of Aboriginal Lands

  • Jonathan Black-BranchEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Successive Supreme Court of Canada rulings recognize governmental fiduciary obligations, of a sui generis nature, regarding the use of lands owned, or claimed, by indigenous peoples. Decisions in cases such as: Calder, Sparrow , Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in , and Ktunaxa Nation create both a moral and legal duty to consult, accommodate, and negotiate in good faith with indigenous groups before using their lands for economic development purposes, including mining, logging and hydro-power projects. Although heralded as progress for Canada’s aboriginal populations in their plight for reconciliation for consequences of European settlement, questions remain as to how significant such judicial precedents may be in practice, particularly in relation to nuclear issues. Whilst the courts may have issued important precedents relating to how Government should proceed before developing land and exploiting natural resources, in reality indigenous views may not be heeded, especially regarding uranium mining and nuclear energy considerations. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty 1968 recognizes a country’s ‘inalienable’ right to nuclear energy. Despite the duty to consult and accommodate, questions remain as to how this may play out as it relates to uranium mining, building nuclear power plants or the storage of nuclear waste on indigenous lands. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an analysis of the case of Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia (2014 SCC 44) with reference to other relevant court rulings, highlighting the importance and the need to consult with indigenous peoples and to accommodate their views regarding the exploration, development and use of their ancestral lands, and questioning the credence given to these rights as it relates to environmental concerns and the right to self-determination within the broader context of the need to consult on nuclear issues.

Keywords

Environmental Protection Humanitarian Impact Indigenous Rights Self-Determination of Peoples Consultation Uranium Mining Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Canadian Constitutional Law Customary Rights Land Claims 

References

  1. Baker Lake (Hamlet) v. Canada (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development) (1979) [1980] 1 FCR 518, 107 DLR (3d) 513, 1979 CarswellNat 186Google Scholar
  2. CBC News (2014) Northern Quebec Cree start 850 km trek to protest against uranium mining. http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/northern-quebec-cree-start-850-km-trek-to-protest-against-uranium-mining-1.2844050
  3. CBC News (2018) Indigenous rights question remains in Ottawa’s planned environmental assessment overhaul, 8 February 2018. http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/indigenous-rights-consultation-environment-assessment-1.4527355
  4. Dalton JE (2006) Aboriginal Self-Determination in Canada: Protections Afforded by the Judiciary and Government.21 Canadian Journal of Law & Society, 11Google Scholar
  5. Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, GA Res. 2625 (XXV), 24 October 1970Google Scholar
  6. Delgamuukw v. British Columbia [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010, 1997 Carswell BC 2358Google Scholar
  7. Dewar D, Harvey L, Vakil C (2013) Uranium mining and health. Canadian Family Physician (CFP), College of Family Physicians of Canada, Vol. 59, 469–71Google Scholar
  8. East J (2015) BAPE report rejects uranium development, The Nation News, 7 August 2015. http://www.nationnews.ca/bape-report-rejects-uranium-development/. Accessed 17 May 2018
  9. Eiichiro O (2014) Hiroshima to Fukushima: Biohazards of Radiation. Springer-Verlag, Berlin/HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  10. Kazemi Estate v Islamic Republic of Iran, 2014 SCC 62, [2014] 3 SCR 176Google Scholar
  11. Ktunaxa Nation v. British Columbia (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) [2017] 2 SCR 386, [2017] 2 S.C.R.Google Scholar
  12. Legare A (2008) Canada’s Experiment with Aboriginal Self-Determination in Nunavut: From Vision to Illusion. 15 International Journal on Minority & Group Rights 335Google Scholar
  13. Lexum (2017) Ktunaxa Nation v. British Columbia (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations), [2017] 2 SCR 386, 2 S.C.R. 386. https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/16816/index.do
  14. Macklem P et al. (eds) (2010) Canadian Constitutional Law, 4th edn. Emond Montgomery Publications Limited, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  15. Macklem P, Oliver P, Des Rosiers N (eds) (2017) The Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  16. Newman D (2017) The Top Ten Uncertainties of Aboriginal Title after Tsilhqot’in. Fraser Institute, http://www.fraserinstitute.org
  17. Nuclear Safety and Control Act, S.C. 1997, c. 9Google Scholar
  18. R. v Hape, 2007 SCC 26 [2007] 2 SCR 292Google Scholar
  19. Reference re Secession of Quebec, 1998 CarswellNat 1299Google Scholar
  20. The Guardian (2016) Nuclear power plant accidents: listed and ranked since 1952, https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank
  21. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968) 729 UNTS 161 (1 July 1968)Google Scholar
  22. Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, [2014] SCC 44, 2014 CSC 44Google Scholar
  23. Vice News (2015) Dene People in Northern Saskatchewan Are Resisting Uranium and Tar Sands Mining, 11 February 2015. https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/jmbwx8/a-dene-alliance-formed-to-resist-uranium-and-tar-sands-mining-in-saskatchewan-892
  24. World Nuclear Association (2018) Uranium in Canada. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/canada-uranium.aspx. Accessed 17 May 2018
  25. World Nuclear Association (2018) Nuclear Power in Canada. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/canada-nuclear-power.aspx. Accessed 17 May 2018
  26. Xeni Gwet’in First Nations v. British Columbia (2007) BCSC 1700, 246, 2007 CarswellBC 2741.Google Scholar
  27. Ziff B (2014) Principles of Property Law, 6th edn. Carswell, TorontoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser press and the authors 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations