Yasuní's complexity is emblematic of 21st-century conservation landscapes world-wide: products of long isolation at the global periphery, they are erstwhile biological and cultural refuges transformed into contested and violent resource frontiers (Peluso and Watts 2001).

At stake in how those contests play out in Yasuní is its spectacular biodiversity, and the ability of its indigenous residents (including Waorani and others living in voluntary isolation) to enjoy their rights as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (United Nations 2007).