Weighing Benefits and Risks

Roles and Responsibilities

The Issue

The allocation of key roles and responsibilities related to BAs evolves over pre-negotiation, negotiation, implementation phases, and will likely involve people beyond direct parties to a particular BA. Having clarity about roles and responsibilities can enhance accountability and avoid overburdening parties to the agreement in the long-term.

In an ideal scenario, clearly identified roles and responsibilities are laid out at the outset of a BA process, are considered in line with available resources and capacities to meet the demands of the identified roles, and are supported through accessible, transparent institutions that enable actioning of these roles (Keenan and Sosa, 2001).

Gibson and O’Faircheallaigh (2015) stress that it is important for communities entering into BA processes to be aware of the knock-on impact these processes could have on access to courts and government regulators, freedom to pursue particular political strategies, land-claims negotiations and demands for the highest standards of corporate accountability and responsibility.

For these broader reasons, First Nations could be better positioned to engage in BA processes if clear structures
that identify who will participate in various phases of the BA, and how, are laid out. For instance, in addition to the proponent, community rights holders, and governments, in the implementation phase of a BA, it may be important to consider how labour union relationships will be managed, whereas these relationships may not be as salient in the pre-negotiation or negotiation phases.


There is a growing body of knowledge and practice around ensuring that First Nations involved in BA processes have effective and meaningful roles and responsibilities that ultimately advance their rights, needs, and interests. One way this can be done is by creating steering committees that can inform BA negotiations, in addition to a more specialized negotiating team comprised of elders, youth, women, community government representatives, and representatives from key livelihood activities (hunters, trappers, gatherers) (Gibson and O’Faircheallaigh, 2015, 64-65). Moreover, robust community engagement can also support positive outcomes. Additional considerations on mechanisms to lay out roles and responsibilities can be explored further in the brief related to governance and principles and arrangements.

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