Spatio-Temporal Dimensions of Indigenous Sovereignty in International Law

26 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020

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Date Written: May 24, 2020


The sovereignty of indigenous peoples has long been a matter of debate. This paper investigates the spatio-temporal dimensions of indigenous sovereignty in international law. The topic holds both theoretical relevance and contemporary practical significance, as it can inform and transform ongoing debates on the rights of indigenous people. The chapter highlights the importance of history in any serious and constructive consideration of the territorial and spatial dimensions of sovereignty. It also highlights that a just or at least fair resolution of any question relating to sovereignty, including its territorial dimension, must fully consider competing stories, histories, and temporalities of sovereignty. This method of analysis infuses the concept of sovereignty with inter-civilisational connotations, which are often neglected in current debates. Going beyond the traditional conception of State sovereignty, the paper supports the emergence of novel concepts, such as parallel sovereignty, to complement and give further impulse to the self-determination of indigenous peoples within the State. This reflection appeals to the experiences and histories of non-Western cultures and civilisations, thereby opening new avenues for informing future theory and practice of international law.

Keywords: Indigenous peoples, human rights, sovereignty, history and theory of international law

Suggested Citation

Vadi, Valentina, Spatio-Temporal Dimensions of Indigenous Sovereignty in International Law (May 24, 2020). 2019 ESIL Annual Conference, Athens, 12-14 September 2019 , Available at SSRN: or

Valentina Vadi (Contact Author)

Lancaster University ( email )

School of Law
Bowland North
Lancaster, Lancaster LS14YN
United Kingdom

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