Introducing the Inherent Rights of Indigenous Peoples
in A. Di Blase and V. Vadi (eds) The Inherent Rights of Indigenous Peoples in International Law (Rome: University of Rome 3 Press 2020) 15-39
28 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020
Date Written: February 23, 2020
In the age of exploration, and for some time afterwards, indigenous peoples were recognised as important players in international relations. They signed treaties and had autonomous forms of governance and independence. The colonization process dramatically altered this state of affairs, and international law almost forgot them. For centuries, indigenous peoples have not been considered to be actors of international law. Nonetheless, their contemporary efforts to protect their rights and regain control of their own destinies has highlighted ‘the transformative potential of international law’ as a tool of re-empowerment.1 In the past decades, a new awareness of the importance of indigenous rights has emerged at both domestic and international levels. Such an awareness of the state duty to protect the social and cultural identity of indigenous peoples has developed particularly in the last fifty years. UN organs have systematically codified human rights law and adopted specific international law instruments that protect indigenous peoples’ rights. Indigenous transnational networks have not only enabled the transcontinental exchange of information and catalysed attention to the rights and needs of indigenous peoples, but they have also canvassed an important role for indigenous peoples in contemporary international relations. Although the estimated 370 million indigenous peoples live across 90 countries and are characterized by a variety of different geographical, political, and social situations, they have tried to convey common pressing needs.
Keywords: inherent rights, human rights, indigenous peoples, international law, sovereignty
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