Indigenous Homeland Security: A Proposed United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Law of First Contact
33 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2005
Date Written: November 21, 2005
The thesis of this Article is that outside, foreign, non-native diseases are the most dangerous threat to indigenous populations. Additional threats include the loss of cultural identity caused by the introduction of new technology, and the loss of religious and cultural identity caused by proselytizing missionaries that seek to replace the indigenous religions. As such, the world community should take all necessary steps to protect indigenous peoples from these threats. The best way to prevent the introduction of disease, technology, and foreign culture is to strictly limit any contact between modern-day society and uncontacted indigenous peoples. While some countries have domestic laws governing the relationship between their citizens and the uncontacted tribes within their country's boundaries, domestic laws are not enough because of the desire of citizens to exploit natural resources within their geopolitical boundaries.
Because domestic law is insufficient to protect the indigenous populations, a rule of international law is necessary to ensure compliance in all the countries that have uncontacted indigenous populations. Current international law does not really address the problems of uncontacted indigenous peoples. The most pertinent document is the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. According to Professor Clinton, the draft Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights contemplates the continued international legal protection of the peoplehood and political institutions of indigenous and tribal peoples. While the Declaration has not been ratified by the United Nations member states, the fact that a draft declaration exists is a step in the right direction.
The Declaration does address a number of issues facing indigenous peoples, but does not address the problem of first contact, that is, initial contact between foreign (usually Western) explorers and indigenous peoples which have had no prior human contact outside the members of their social group. Thus, I have modified the Declaration to address the issues of first contact, as well as some issues of sovereignty and cultural identity. The modified Declaration, titled Indigenous Homeland Security: A Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Law of First Contact can be found in Appendix A of this paper.
Keywords: first contact, indigenous rights, indigenous peoples, international law
JEL Classification: K34, F00, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation