Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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From spaces of domination to spaces of resistance: Aboriginal people against the forced closure of remote communities

Stop the Forced Closure of Aboriginal Communities  Image: Yildiz

Stop the Forced Closure of Aboriginal Communities
Image: Yildiz

By Yesim Yaprak Yildiz, University of Cambridge

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra sent a delegation to the Australian Parliament to deliver a message to Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull. The day was 27th November 2015; a global day of action against the threatened closure of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and other regions due to funding cuts by the federal government. Continue Reading →

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Creativity Calls: Designing a Monitoring Body for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples' Opening Plenary Meeting and adoption of the Conference Outcome Document, 22 September 2014, New York.  Photo: Shane Brown, Indigenous Global Coordinating Group Media Team

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples’ Opening Plenary Meeting and adoption of the Conference Outcome Document, 22 September 2014, New York.
Photo: Shane Brown, Indigenous Global Coordinating Group Media Team

By Fleur Adcock

National Centre for Indigenous Studies

Calls for an international mechanism to monitor implementation of the 2007 United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) are growing louder. The Declaration is the most comprehensive articulation of the contours of Indigenous peoples’ rights. The product of more than two decades of intensive negotiations and lobbying by Indigenous peoples and their supporters, it affirms Indigenous peoples’ rights to internal self-determination, their lands and resources, culture, equality and development, amongst others. As a non-budgetary resolution of the UN General Assembly the Declaration is not strictly binding in the way that a UN treaty is. Yet, aspects of the Declaration form part of customary international law. Since the Declaration’s adoption, the idea of a monitoring mechanism has been raised both informally and formally. But in the past year the idea has gained momentum. Continue Reading →

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Indigenous Peoples and FPIC: When does the ‘C’ mean ‘Consent’?

By Jackie Hartley, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales

Indigenous Rights Now! Photo courtesy of the Rainforest Action Network:

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights may soon have an opportunity to confirm whether, and under what circumstances, States are required to obtain the consent of Indigenous peoples in relation to resource development.

Indigenous peoples have long asserted a right to determine whether resource development can occur within their traditional territories. In a range of international fora, advocates for the rights of Indigenous peoples frequently argue that States should obtain the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous peoples before authorising development projects that affect them. To a significant extent, the emergence of this standard reflects the need for Indigenous peoples to protect the integrity of their lands and their relationships with them. However, the standard also reflects a strong belief that States ought to respect Indigenous peoples’ decision-making authority, governance structures and laws in relation to their territories. Continue Reading →

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‘Relationship Matters’: Constitutional Protection of Indigenous Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand

By Fleur Adcock

Image from Fightback

Aotearoa New Zealand has recently begun a national dialogue regarding the place of Maori – its first peoples – in the country’s constitution. In February this year a Government-appointed Constitutional Advisory Panel kicked off the public consultation phase of its consideration of an array of questions concerning New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. Topics for discussion include ‘Crown-Maori relationship matters’,[1] namely the role of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand’s constitution. The Treaty, signed between representatives of Maori and the Crown in 1840, exchanged British governance for the protection of Maori rangatiratanga (self-determination). It remains the pivotal instrument around which Maori concerns regarding their rights as Indigenous peoples foment. The review also includes consideration of Maori political representation, such as the Maori electoral option that allows Maori to choose to enrol on a separate Maori electoral roll; Maori electoral participation; and New Zealand’s dedicated seats for Maori in Parliament (voted for by those on the Maori electoral roll) and on some local government bodies. Continue Reading →