New Scholarship on the UNDRIP’s Article 31 on Intellectual Property Rights

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Human Rights Framework for Intellectual Property Rights, now posted in SSRN, will appear in A Research Handbook on Indigenous Intellectual Property, Edward Elgar (2014).

Here is the abstract:

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration) establishes, in Article 31, that indigenous peoples ‘have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.’ In light of the centrality of the Declaration in the realm of indigenous rights, Article 31 represents the reference point for any credible discussion of the interlink between the cultural and intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples. This chapter seeks to contextualize this important provision within the normative framework of the Declaration. The first part of the chapter will examine the legal and political significance of the Declaration, discussing the circumstances surrounding its drafting and adoption as well as its normative content. The second part of the chapter will focus on the key provisions of the Declaration that are closely connected with indigenous peoples’ intellectual property rights, including those on self-determination and land rights. Special attention will be paid to the content of Article 31 of the Declaration, highlighting the progressive character of this provision in relation to the intellectual property rights regime currently in force at the international level.

Bad River Ojibwe Comments on EPA Environmental Justice Draft — Need More UNDRIP


Bad River Comments on EPA EJ Policy

The EPA’s draft and call for comments is here.

James Anaya at Colorado Law on Indigenous Peoples in the United States

From ICT.

An excerpt:

James Anaya, a United Nations fact-finder, has learned that vibrant Indian cultures are often invisible in the United States mainstream and that problems of Indians today seem trivial to U.S. citizens who tend to believe Natives and Native issues exist only in the distant past.

Another excerpt:

On a personal note that illustrated the here-and-now of Native concerns, Anaya said he’d received a letter from a 15-year-old student attending high school near the Rosebud Sioux (Sicangu Lakota) Reservation in South Dakota.

“Life here is very hand-to-mouth,” the student wrote. “I’m going to be honest with you—sometimes I don’t eat. I’ve never told anyone this before, not even my mom, but I don’t eat sometimes because I feel bad about making my mom buy food that I know is expensive.

“And you know what? Life is hard enough for my mom, so I will probably never tell her.”

Anaya gave the Thomson Visitor Lecture as part of the 2012-2013 Speaker Series of the American Indian Law Program.


“Tribal Consent” Draft Now Available

My paper, “Tribal Consent,” is available for download on SSRN. It’s a draft, perhaps even messier than my usual drafts. Constructive criticism welcome to my regular email address.

Here is the abstract:

Tribal consent to federal statutes, regulations, and cases that decide matters critical to American Indian people and Indian tribes long has been lacking. The nineteenth and twentieth century Supreme Court cases are replete with efforts by Indians and tribes to avoid the dictates of many of these laws and regulations that directly injured tribal interests, almost always to no avail. Congress legislated, the Executive branch acted, and the Supreme Court either walked away or upheld the law and its enforcement. Conversely, tribal governance has been dramatically altered in recent decades in part by the notion that non-Indians and non-tribal entities have not consented to assertions of tribal government authority over them. This lack of consent is meaningful because Indian tribes are not beholden to the dictates of the American Constitution (nor could they be), and so the nonmembers could be subject to governmental authority unfettered by individual constitutional rights.

The first part of this paper is a short history of the incorporation of Indian tribes into the American policy, largely without the consent of Indian tribes and Indian people. The second part moves beyond the discussion of the lack of tribal consent to federal and state governance, and how that lack of consent actually generated the legal and political justification for Congressional (and federal) plenary power over Indian affairs. The third part describes how express and literal consent has come to dominate federal common law on tribal authority over nonmembers. This part explores the irony of introducing nonmembers in vast numbers into Indian country without tribal consent, and then forcing tribal governments to acquire literal consent from those nonmembers in order to govern them. The fourth, and last, part argues for a theory of tribal consent. Unlike the vague and even fictional consent espoused by thinkers such as Justice Kennedy, and denigrated by critics who bemoan its limitations, tribal consent theory should be explored and integrated in federal Indian law. In fact, the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires that states acquired the free and informed consent of Indigenous governments and people before taking action detrimental to those peoples, giving rise to a kind of literal consent theory and practice desperately needed in American Indian affairs.

Chi-miigwetch to the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties offering a home to this paper.