Indigenous Political Representation: Latin America and International Human Rights Law
Journal of New Zealand Studies, NS11, pp. 93-107, 2011
19 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2011 Last revised: 5 Apr 2015
Date Written: December 12, 2011
Indigenous peoples claim greater control over and participation in decision-making over their lives. A lack of such control and participation has been identified as a significant problem and impediment for achieving indigenous peoples’ human rights. As a result, indigenous peoples claim substantive rights to political participation and representation for the group, not just for the individuals within it.
In this paper, I first outline the traditional approach to rights of electoral participation within international law, offering some examples from the European Court of Human Rights to illustrate this position. I then discuss the indigenous rights approach, and show how this is the approach adopted in Latin America. I discuss the example of the YATAMA decision from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in order to illustrate this.
The paper concludes that the Latin American approach best integrates human rights concerning both electoral participation and indigenous peoples. It therefore provides the best example currently available for reconceiving the existing principles of international law to better integrate indigenous rights more generally across the body of human rights law and, thus, to better provide for indigenous representation within domestic representative political bodies.
Keywords: human rights, Indigenous peoples, political representation, electoral participation
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation