Introduction: Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights – Institutions and Influences
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND HUMAN RIGHTS: INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL JURISPRUDENCE, Ben Saul, Hart/Bloomsbury, UK, 2016
20 Pages Posted: 14 May 2016 Last revised: 25 Jul 2016
Date Written: May 11, 2016
This paper introduces a forthcoming book on the jurisprudence developed by United Nations human rights treaty bodies and regional human rights bodies in creatively interpreting and adapting general human rights standards to the specific circumstances and experiences of indigenous peoples. Most of this work began in the 1980s and accelerated since the 1990s. The committees’ jurisprudence has also helped to lay the intellectual groundwork for further standard setting initiatives by other UN human rights bodies, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007. Contemporary standards were influenced by a range of legal sources and institutions, starting with seven conventions adopted by through the International Labour Organisation between 1936 and 1989, which responded to forced labour and other exploitation of indigenous peoples. Beyond the ILO, much of the standard setting on indigenous rights was developed through the non-binding but normatively influential ‘soft law’ developed by various political UN bodies. These have foremost emanated from the various special procedures and mechanisms devoted to indigenous issues in the UN system since the 1970s. These include the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) from 1982-2007 (and its UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007), the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) from 2007 to the present, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) from 2000 to the present, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples from 2001 to the present. Beyond these UN mechanisms dedicated to indigenous issues, three other areas of international law, also of concern to specialised UN bodies, have influenced the appreciation of indigenous issues by the UN treaty committees and regional human rights bodies. These include aspects of international environmental law, cultural heritage and cultural property law, and international law concerning finance and development. One further source of normative influence is relevant – ‘treaties’ with indigenous peoples, which often preserve indigenous rights in land, resources, and self-governance.
Keywords: Indigenous peoples, sources of international law, International Labour Organisation, United Nations, human rights, UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation