New Scholarship on the Sarayaku v. Ecuador Inter-American Court of Human Rights Decision

Thomas M. Antkowiak has posted “Rights, Resources, and Rhetoric: Indigenous Peoples and the Inter-American Court,” forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights handed down Sarayaku v. Ecuador, a crucial decision on indigenous rights. This Article considers how the Sarayaku judgment impacts the Court’s case law on indigenous lands and resources, and evaluates that jurisprudence as a whole. Examining the cases, it becomes evident that the Tribunal now connects a number of key indigenous rights to the right to property, Article 21 of the American Convention on Human Rights. When traditional lands are involved, the right to property has become the Court’s structural basis for indigenous rights.

For significant reasons, however, the right to property cannot serve as the conceptual stronghold for indigenous peoples’ survival and development. First, the Court’s approach limits the autonomy of indigenous peoples and their capacity for change. Second, the right to property inherently has difficulty providing even basic protection for ancestral lands because domestic and international law grants states wide latitude to interfere with property. Though the Court has attempted to create special ‘safeguards’ for indigenous lands and resources, they have proven inadequate.

In response, I urge a distinct way for the Court to conceptualize indigenous rights. The right to property must be subsumed by, and anchored to, a stronger configurative principle to defend indigenous peoples’ livelihood. Other human rights regimes offer the right to self-determination or specific minority protections that can safeguard indigenous rights. The relevant Inter-American legal instruments fail to establish such principles. As a result, I propose that a broad right-to-life concept, known as vida digna in the Court’s case law, serve as the new structural basis for an array of essential indigenous norms — including cultural integrity, nondiscrimination, lands and resources, social development, and self-government.

Call for Papers, University of Tromso

The University of Tromso has released a call for papers for its upcoming international symposium:

Extractive Industries in the North – what about Environmental Law and Indigenous Peoples Rights? 

The symposium will be held November 17-19, 2013.

The announcement and call for papers can be found here.

Online Documents of Maori Legal History

From the Legal History Blog:

The New Zealand Legal Text Centre had recently launched an on-line archive of documents relating to the legal history of the Maori, the indigenous people of the islands. Here is the announcement:

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre is proud to announce the launch of the Legal Maori Archive, a collection of more than 14,000 pages of around 250 19th century documents that illustrate the bi-lingual nature of New Zealand’s legal history. The Legal Maori Archive is freely available to the public and can be accessed via the NZETC website.

Among the many documents featured in this collection are the following:

The Proceedings of the Kotahitanga Parliaments

Henry Hanson Turton’s Maori Deeds of Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

Maori translations of Acts and Bills circulated among Maori communities by the Crown

The Archive has been created in conjunction with Mamari Stephens from the Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Law as part of a project to establish a corpus of legal Maori documents, which will allow the analysis of the language and eventually a dictionary of legal Maori terms and concepts. It is the first time the documents have been brought together in one place and is the largest collection of separate documents that the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has digitised. The Legal Maori Project seeks to resource speakers of te reo Maori who may not currently have access to a shared vocabulary to describe Western legal concepts. This Project will collate, develop and make available the terminology from Legal Maori texts, including those from the Legal Maori Archive, to all speakers and learners of te reo Maori and all researchers

Patrick Macklem on Indigenous Recognition in International Law

Patrick Macklem has posted his paper, “Indigenous Recognition in International Law: Theoretical Observations,” published in the Michigan Journal of International Law. Here is the abstract:

Drawing on a classic essay by Hans Kelsen, this Article addresses the status of indigenous peoples in international law. It argues that the criteria for determining the legal existence of indigenous peoples in international law are a function of the nature and purpose of international indigenous rights. The twentieth century legal history of international indigenous rights, from their origins in international protection of indigenous workers in colonies to their contemporary expression in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, demonstrates that their purpose is to mitigate injustices produced by how the international legal order treats sovereignty as a legal entitlement that it distributes among collectivities it recognizes as states. The criteria by which indigenous peoples can be said to exist in international law relate to their historic exclusion from the distribution of sovereignty initiated by colonization that lies at the heart of the international legal order.

Patrick Macklem on Minority Rights in International Law

Patrick Macklem has posted “Minority Rights in International Law” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Why should international human rights law vest members of a minority community – either individually or collectively – with rights that secure a measure of autonomy from the state in which they are located? To the extent that the field offers answers to this question, it does so from its deep commitment to the protection of certain universal attributes of human identity from the exercise of sovereign power. It protects minority rights on the assumption that religious, cultural and linguistic affiliations are essential features of what it means to be human. There exists an alternative account of why minority rights possess international significance, one that trades less on the currency of religion, culture and language and more on the value of international distributive justice. On this account, international minority rights speak to wrongs that that international law itself produces by organizing international political reality into a legal order. This account avoids the normative instabilities of attaching universal value to religious, cultural and linguistic affiliation and instead challenges the international legal order to remedy pathologies of its own making.

Lillian Aponte Miranda on Indigenous Land Rights under International Law

Lillian Aponte Miranda (FIU) has published “The Hybrid State-Corporate Enterprise and Violations of Indigenous Land Rights: Theorizing Corporate Responsibility and Accountability under International Law” in the Lewis & Clark Law Review.

From the abstract:

Continue reading

Washburn Law Journal Call for Papers

The Washburn Law Journal is currently requesting article submissions for the third issue of volume 47. This issue will be entirely focused on legal issues involving Indigenous Peoples of North America. We leave the topic intentionally broad, so that we might obtain a wide range of articles on legal issues, which include, but are not limited to, Tribal Law, Federal Indian Law and international legal concerns of indigenous populations. If you have academic pieces that you would like us to consider for publication, please send an email with your submission and contact information to Eryn Wright, Articles Editor at All submissions received prior to January 4, 2008 will be considered.

Thank you,

Eryn Wright

Articles Editor

Washburn Law Journal, Volume 47