Indigenous peoples have been systematically excluded from the process of evolution of International Human Rights Law after 1945. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted in 1957 and 1989 the two major conventional instruments for the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights (ILO Convention No. 107 and ILO Convention No. 169, respectively). Despite the relevance of ILO Convention No. 169, it faces significant problems both in terms of scope (only 20 States have ratified it so far) and content. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) adopted on September 2007 by the UN General Assembly is aimed at filling these gaps. Since the 80s, the adoption of such a document was one of the main demands coming from indigenous organizations and representatives. Being fully aware of its non-binding nature, they were convinced that the UN Declaration could play a relevant role in the dynamic and challenging interplay between hard law and soft law, thus contributing to the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights both at domestic and at international level. Against this background, we will also look at some cases where indigenous peoples have faced the appropriation of their lands, territories, and natural resources by states and transnational companies.

Instructor: Prof. Felipe Gomez Isa