Indigenous Decolonization and United Nations Membership: Indigenous Peoples and the Fundamental Right to Self-Determination

115 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2013 Last revised: 17 Nov 2013

See all articles by India Reed Bowers

India Reed Bowers

Utrecht University - School of Law


This LL.M. thesis provides legal arguments for, amongst other things, the inclusion of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples as Members of the United Nations (equal to States, but not required to form States) through an equality- and dignity-based examination of UN Decolonization, 'friendly relations', and self-determination. The arguments contained within also provide an examination of the violations of International Law resulting from, amongst other topics addressed, discrimination committed by the United Nations and States against Indigenous and Tribal Peoples via State-Indigenous governing relationships. Limited access to justice and limited actualized rights in regards to Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination are discussed with reference to Tribal/Indigenous/State shared histories, legal personality, the International Court of Justice and judicial procedure and remedy, State anti-discrimination laws, the UN and its relationship to international trade and business, the codification of international human rights and criminal law, mental health (with special attention to high Indigenous suicide rates in 'developed' States, colonialism and discrimination), current UN definitions of 'aggression', 'war', 'colonialism' and 'conflict' (with suggestions of definition revisions), State abuse towards Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, segregation and exclusion, and apartheid and cultural genocide as resulting from State-Indigenous inequality as experienced by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. UN definitions of ‘development’ are challenged and held accountable for cultural discrimination and death. Recommendations with an emphasis on healing include amendment of the UN Charter and suggested General Assembly Resolutions, as well as equal international leadership opportunity for traditional and chosen Indigenous and Tribal legal and governing cultures, subsistence-based lifeways and traditional Indigenous and Tribal healers with a focus on the right to cultural integrity, traditional Indigenous and Tribal lands, including the right to say 'no' to non-native land-grabbing, resource exploitation and State abuses. The argument that State territorial integrity includes Indigenous and Tribal traditional lands is also countered. The original version of this LL.M. thesis was submitted to the Master's of Law program 'International Law of Human Rights and Criminal Justice' at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, 22 August 2012. This online version was uploaded 5 March 2013.

Keywords: Indigenous, Cultural Genocide, Membership, Apartheid, Decolonization, United Nations, International Court of Justice, Uti Possidetis, Suicide, Self-Determination, Non-Self-Governing Territories, UN Charter, Development, Human Rights, Cultural Integrity, Dignity, Conflict, Land-Grabbing, Equality

JEL Classification: B25, F00, F01, F02, H10, H11, H19, H77, H79, I10, I19, K33, K40, K42, N3, N50, O00, O19, O13, O10

Suggested Citation

Bowers, India Reed, Indigenous Decolonization and United Nations Membership: Indigenous Peoples and the Fundamental Right to Self-Determination. Available at SSRN: or

India Reed Bowers (Contact Author)

Utrecht University - School of Law ( email )

3508 TC Utrecht

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