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Indigenous rights

Indigenous rights

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Indigenous rights are those rights
Rights
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory...

 that exist in recognition of the specific condition of the indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

. This includes not only the most basic human rights of physical survival and integrity, but also the preservation of their land
Indigenous land rights
Indigenous land rights are hangtime the rights of indigenous peoples to land, either individually or collectively. Land and resource-related rights are of fundamental importance to indigenous peoples for a range of reasons, including: the religious significance of the land, self-determination,...

, language
Indigenous language
An indigenous language or autochthonous language is a language that is native to a region and spoken by indigenous peoples but has been reduced to the status of a minority language. This language would be from a linguistically distinct community that has been settled in the area for many generations...

, religion
Ethnic religion
Ethnic religion may include officially sanctioned and organized civil religions with an organized clergy, but they are characterized in that adherents generally are defined by their ethnicity, and conversion essentially equates to cultural assimilation to the people in question. Contrasted to this...

 and other elements of cultural heritage that are a part of their existence as a people. This can be used as an expression for advocacy of social organizations or form a part of the national law in establishing the relation between a government and the right of self-determination among the indigenous people living within its borders, or in international law as a protection against violation by actions of governments or groups of private interests.

Definition and historical background


The indigenous rights belong to those who, being indigenous peoples, are defined by being the original settlers of a land that has been invaded and colonized
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 by outsiders. Exactly who is a part of the indigenous peoples is disputed, but can broadly be understood in relation to colonialism. When we speak of indigenous peoples we speak of those pre-colonial societies that face a specific threat from this phenomenon of occupation, and the relation that these societies have with the colonial powers. The exact definition of who are the indigenous people, and the consequent state of rightsholders, varies. It is considered both to be bad to be too inclusive as it is to be non-inclusive. In the context of modern indigenous people of European colonial powers, the recognition of indigenous rights can be traced to at least the period of Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Along with the justification of colonialism with a higher purpose for both the colonists and colonized, some voices expressed concerned over the way the indigenous people were treated and the effect it had on their society.

The issue of indigenous rights is also associated with other levels of human struggle. Due to the close relationship between indigenous peoples' cultural and economic situations and their environmental settings, indigenous rights issues are linked with concerns over environmental change and sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

. According to scientists and organizations like the Rainforest Foundation, the struggle for indigenous peoples is essential for solving the problem of reducing carbon emission, and approaching the threat on both cultural and biological diversity in general.

Representation


The rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, claims and even identity of indigenous peoples are apprehended, acknowledged and observed quite differently from government to government. Various organizations exist with charters to in one way or another promote (or at least acknowledge) indigenous aspirations, and indigenous societies have often banded together to form bodies which jointly seek to further their communal interests.

International organizations



There are several non-governmental organizations, such as Friends of Peoples Close to Nature
Friends of Peoples Close to Nature
Friends of Peoples Close to Nature is a non-governmental human rights organization that works in the field of indigenous rights. The organization is dedicated to the survival of tribal peoples, in particular hunter-gatherers...

, Survival International
Survival International
Survival International is a human rights organisation formed in 1969 that campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples and uncontacted peoples, seeking to help them to determine their own future. Their campaigns generally focus on tribal peoples' fight to keep their ancestral lands,...

 and Cultural Survival
Cultural Survival
Cultural Survival is a nonprofit group based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA which is dedicated to defending the human rights of indigenous peoples. Their stated mandate is to promote the rights, voices and visions, of indigenous people. For 37 years, Cultural Survival has partnered with...

, whose founding mission is to protect indigenous rights. They deal with issues related to land rights, persecution and culture preservation. These organizations underline that the problems that indigenous peoples face do not lie in any deficiency on their culture or way of living, but on the lack of recognition that they are entitled to live the way they choose, and that they belong in the land where they exist. They see that it is their mission to protect the rights to determine their future without western societies imposing their ideas of "development". These groups underline that indigenous cultures have proven to originally live in very rich fulfilling cultures of substenance and arts, and at the root of their problems is an interference with their way of living in the name of western's consumption of natural resources.
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United Nations


Indigenous peoples and their interests are represented in the United Nations primarily through the mechanisms of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations
Working Group on Indigenous Populations
The Working Group on Indigenous Populations was a subsidiary body within the structure of the United Nations. It was established in 1982, and was one of the six working groups overseen by the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the main subsidiary body of the United...

 (WGIP). In April 2000 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
United Nations Commission on Human Rights
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights was a functional commission within the overall framework of the United Nations from 1946 until it was replaced by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2006...

 adopted a resolution to establish the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is the UN's central coordinating body for matters relating to the concerns and rights of the world's indigenous peoples. "Indigenous person" means native, original, first people and aboriginal. There are more than 370 million indigenous...

 (PFII) as an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council
United Nations Economic and Social Council
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations constitutes one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and it is responsible for the coordination of the economic, social and related work of 14 UN specialized agencies, its functional commissions and five regional commissions...

 with a mandate to review indigenous issues.

In late December 2004, the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 proclaimed 2005–2014 to be the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. The main goal of the new decade will be to strengthen international cooperation around resolving the problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.

In September 2007, after a process of preparations, discussions and negotiations stretching back to 1982, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during its 62nd session at UN Headquarters in New York City on 13 September 2007....

. The non-binding declaration outlines the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to identity, culture, language, employment, health, education and other issues. Four nations with significant indigenous populations voted against the declaration: the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. All four have since then changed their vote in favour. Eleven nations abstained: Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

, Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, Russia, Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. Thirty-four nations did not vote, while the remaining 143 nations voted for it.

ILO 169


ILO 169 is a convention of the International Labour Organisation. Once ratified by a state, it is meant to work as a law protecting tribal people's rights. There are twenty-two countries that ratified the Convention 169 since the year of adoption in 1989: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Spain and Venezuela. The law recognizes land ownership; equality and freedom; and autonomy for decisions affecting indigenous peoples.

Organization of American States


Since 2001, the nations of the Organization of American States have been discussing draft versions of a proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

External links