Category Archives: Cultural Rights

Indigenous Rights and the Environment: Evolving International Law (C. Metcalf)

Author

Cherie Metcalf

Keywords

indigenous rights, international law, international environmental law, environmental rights, cultural integrity model, self-determination, recognition, autonomy, state sovereignty, participation, sustainability, sustainable environmental management

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between indigenous peoples’ rights in international law and international environmental law. Two models underlie the protection of indigenous environmental rights. A “cultural integrity” model recognizes indigenous peoples’ environmental rights as a corollary to the protection and preservation of indigenous culture. In the alternative ‘self-determination” model, indigenous peoples’ environmental rights flow from their recognition as distinct communities with an inherent degree of autonomy and control over their own development. Both models have the potential to transform international environmental law. Recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights allows principles of international environmental law to pierce the veil of state sovereignty. The cultural integrity model offers the potential to broaden the legal framework of international environmental law
through the inclusion of human rights instruments. The self-determination model may lead to indigenous peoples’ independent participation in international agreements addressing environmental concerns. There is a crucial difference between the models. The cultural integrity model incorporates a connection between indigenous rights and sustainable environmental management while the self-determination model is based on indigenous peoples’ right to choose their own environmental policy. There is no inherent relationship between recognition of indigenous rights and sustainable environmental management in the latter model. The implications for international environmental law are more uncertain.

Citation

(2003) Ottawa Law Review 35 (1) 103-40

Paper

Indigenous Rights and the Environment: Evolving International Law 

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Maori Cultural Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand: Protecting the Cosmology that Protects the Environment (C. J. I. Magallanes)

Author(s)

Catherine J. Iorns Magallanes

Keywords

environment, indigenous, Maori, Waitangi, personality, Waikato, Whanganui, Te Urewera, reparations, human rights

Abstract

This paper first addresses indigenous beliefs about humans’ relationship with nature and thus their place in the world, and how the indigenous cosmology contrasts with the dominant and prevailing Western and liberal ideas.

The paper next addresses the New Zealand examples of the recognition of the right of Maori to have their cosmology upheld in NZ law. In order to understand the current position and how it arose, the history of the Treaty of Waitangi is explained, as is the mechanism adopted to address the Maori grievances arising from its many breaches by the New Zealand government.

Next, different aspects of NZ law are addressed, from recognition of Maori interests and thus cosmology in mainstream resource management decisionmaking, to special arrangements designed specifically to implement Maori cosmology in the management of NZ’s natural resources. It is these special arrangements in particular which environmentalists have focused on because some recent examples have recognised in law the Maori view that the natural environment should be treated more as a person — indeed, as a relative — rather than simply as a resource. These examples from New Zealand illustrate ways in which the law can be used to implement and incorporate indigenous cosmologies with a Western society and legal system and better protect the natural environment in the process.

Citation

(2015) 21 Widener Law Review 2 pp.273-327.

Paper

Maori Cultural Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand: Protecting the Cosmology that Protects the Environment

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Bringing Local Voices to the Global Negotiation Table: Norm Dissemination and Consensus Building on Tropical Forests and Climate Change (M. G. Rodrigues)

Author(s)

Maria G. Rodrigues

Keywords

transnational advocacy networks, norm dissemination, Amazonia, Brazil, REDD + , climate change

Abstract

Initially rejected by the parties to the Kyoto Protocol, efforts to protect tropical forests are now an accepted strategy to mitigate the impact of climate change. Inspired by long-standing demands of Amazonia’s forests peoples, the notion of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD +) has been embraced in global arenas. What accounts for this shift in perceptions about the relation between forests and climate change? Answers lie in the efforts of a transnational advocacy network (TAN) at norm dissemination and consensus-building within Brazil and in the Kyoto Protocol. This study highlights the importance of domestic activism unfolding in democratizing societies to enhance the influence of transnational advocacy networks in norm dissemination and consensus building in global arenas. It enlarges the explanatory power of normative approaches by documenting a case in which the idea and set of values being globally propagated do not emanate from a Western liberal tradition.

Citation

(2015) New Global Studies 9(2) pp. 125–157

Paper

Bringing Local Voices to the Global  Negotiation Table: Norm Dissemination  and Consensus Building on Tropical  Forests and Climate Change

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The Right to be Cold: Global Warming and Human Rights (M. Wagner)

Author(s)

Martin Wagner

Keywords

Climate Change, Human Rights, Indigenous People, Inuit, The Right to Be Cold, Cultural Rights

Excerpt

The relationship between global warming and human rights is something that is beginning to be talked about now, but six or seven years ago no-one had made the connection.  I am going to explore the relationship through the context of some work I have done with the Inuit people of the Arctic regions of the world, and in particular a case that I have brought on their behalf. I want you to remember that this connection between global warming and human rights is not limited by any means to the people of the Arctic; there are potential human rights implications of global warming everywhere around the world.
{…]
So you have the Inuit culture that depends on the ice, snow and cold and you have the effects of global warming in the Arctic. It all raises the question: Is there a human right to be cold? Or to make it more global, is there a human right, for example, to be dry? Let me explain about why I think there is a connection between human rights and global warming. The first thing to remember is that international law and the international community recognise a special place for indigenous people in the community of nations and the special responsibility of nations. But in particular, international human rights recognises that there is a connection between indigenous people and the territory that they occupy and depend on for their livelihood and for their culture that is special and it needs to be
maintained and protected. That is relevant because many of the most vulnerable communities that are being affected first by global warming are indigenous communities.

Citation

(2007) in Human Rights 2007, The Year in Review, Smith and Contini (Eds) (Monash Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, 2008)

Paper

The Right to be Cold: Global Warming and Human Rights (Pre-Publication Conference Paper)

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Human Rights Violations and Climate Change: The Last Days of the Inuit People? (S. Nuffer)

Author

Sarah Nuffer

Keywords

human rights violations, climate change, Inuit, Arctic, vulnerability, responsibility, future generations, United Nations, native groups, indigenous people

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The climate is changing. There is little debate left with regard to this statement. However, the world is still grappling with what exactly this change means. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, recently stated that he is “convinced that climate change, and what we do about it, will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations.” 3 Global Climate Change (“GCC”) has the potential to affect the world’s most developed groups, however, the people whose lives will likely be changed most by GCC are those who have “contribute[d] the least to greenhouse emissions.” 4

One of the groups that will be most affected by GCC are the Inuit of the Arctic region. There is a large degree of certainty that the Arctic’s climate is changing and as a result the Inuit people are being forced to change their way of life, their cultural identity, and in some cases, they are being forced to leave their ancestral lands. While the Inuit people must pay the “highest price … [and] are directly threatened by these rapid climatic changes” 5 because of their traditional way of life, they contributed little to GCC. This unfortunate paradigm, that those most affected by GCC are not responsible for its creation, is a theme that runs tragically true for many native people that lead a traditional and near carbon-free life. This Note will explore the effects of GCC on the Inuit people …

Citation

(2010) 37 Rutgers Law Record 182.

Paper

Human Rights Violations and Climate Change: The Last Days of the Inuit People?

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