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Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights, and the Environment

Yale Human Rights and Environment Dialogues Report, Spring 2011

Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 12-01

19 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2012  

Lorie Graham

Suffolk University Law School

Nicole Friederichs

Suffolk University Law School

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

This essay is taken from the authors’ remarks to a workshop on Indigenous Peoples, International Human Rights Law, and the Environment, which was part of the New Directions in Environmental Law conference held at Yale Law School on April 2, 2011. The goals of the workshop were to examine whether the international human rights framework can give legal and practical meaning to indigenous peoples’ environmental aspirations and struggles and whether and how the indigenous peoples’ rights movement is relevant and useful to the environmental movement. To assist in addressing these questions, the history of the indigenous peoples’ rights movement and its relationship to the international human rights movement was explored, followed by a discussion of three indigenous lands and natural resources cases decided within the context of this human rights framework. Although many indigenous lands rights cases have roots in resisting the destruction of their lands and preventing the harmful extraction of natural resources, one stark conclusion that the sampling of cases illustrates is that these types of cases are driven primarily by the threats to the physical and cultural survival of indigenous peoples. As a result, the cases rely primarily on human rights law to argue for the protection and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources. However, a review of both international human rights law and the indigenous rights cases decided under this framework demonstrate an inextricable link between indigenous peoples’ concerns and the environment. This essay highlights some of these linkages and their potential impact on environmental law.

Suggested Citation

Graham, Lorie and Friederichs, Nicole, Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights, and the Environment (2011). Yale Human Rights and Environment Dialogues Report, Spring 2011; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 12-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1979745

Lorie Graham (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

Nicole Friederichs

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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