Britain Concerned for Uncontacted Awa Tribe: MPs Call on Brazil to Stop Logging to save World’s ‘Most Threatened’ Tribe
Amazon’s logging is ravaging the territory of the most threatened Awa tribe. Fiona Watson/Survival

A number of British MPs and politicians have been urging the Brazilian government to halt illegal logging land invasions in the territory of the Awas, who are believed to be the world's most threatened tribe.

In an early day parliamentary motion, the MPs showed their concern for the condition of the tribe and warned other parliament members the tribe could face extinction if the Brazilian government did not act in time.

"The House expresses its concern at the plight of the Awa tribe in Brazil currently on the brink of extinction; notes that there are currently 360 contacted members of the Awa tribe with an estimated further 20 to 25 per cent uncontacted, and that their territories have been legally recognized," the MPs said during the late-June session.

Deforestation is one of the major reasons why the Awas are facing extinction. According to Survival International, an organisation working for tribal peoples' rights worldwide, the rate of deforestation in the Awa tribe's territory is the fastest in the Amazon. Deforestation affects the tribe's nomadic hunter-gathering profession, which is the only mean for food and hence the survival of these uncontacted tribes.

"The House acknowledges its alarm at the current rates of deforestation of their forests, currently the highest rate of all indigenous reserves in the Amazon; and calls on the Government to urge its Brazilian counterparts to bring a halt to illegal logging and stop invasions of the Awa's land," the MPs added.

So far, 29 MPs have signed the motion calling on the Brazilian government to take decisive action. The MPs belong to a range of parties, including the Labour Party, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, the Scottish National Party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

Plea to Endorse International Labour Organisation Convention 169

The British politicians signed the motion within a month of a plea to the government, made by tribal representatives from across the world, to sign an international law ensuring the survival of tribal people worldwide. The plea was via a letter, dated 17 May 2012, to MP William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, asking the advise the UK government to ratify ILO 169 as a matter of grave importance.

The law, known as International Labour Organisation Convention 169 for Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ILO 169), was designed in 1989 to protect tribal peoples' rights and allow them to own their lands. It is the only law for tribal people worldwide and so far only 22 nations have ratified the law.

Britain lacks Indigenous People

While the UK is not home to what can be described as an indigenous people, British companies do have business interest in land settled by tribals and the letter to Hague pointed out that the UK funded several projects on tribal territories, including World Bank development schemes planned for tribal lands.