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Internationalization of Indigenous Rights and Governance Project

Project Leaders: Ken Coates and Terry Mitchell
Project Members: Jorge Heine, William D. Coleman, Rick Hill, Rhoda Howard-Hassmann, Jean Becker, Darren Thomas, and Alex Latta

The lack of political power and autonomy — as well as human rights infringements — of over 40 million indigenous people worldwide have been major governance issues for over half a century. In the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Canada, tensions remain between state policies and questions of Indian status, land access and treaty rights.

In the post-World War II period, recourse to global governance institutions has emerged as a major tool in the efforts to sustain, rebuild and reinvigorate indigenous cultures and governments.

As a research network, the Internationalization of Indigenous Rights and Governance Project (IIRGP) will advance policy discussions on indigenous governance and engagement at a time of unprecedented political change and indigenous empowerment globally. It brings together indigenous and non-indigenous scholars interested in the implications of global governance for indigenous peoples to study the impact of international institutions and global governance policy documents in promoting effective governance, legislative protection and culture survival for indigenous peoples. 

A critical, international policy dialogue will be informed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, political apologies, indigenous documents and political actions, and major national and global governance policy initiatives. Policy briefs will be developed for regions, with attention to increased internationalization of indigenous rights, the engagement with global governance institutions and the impact of these activities on local, self and state governance of indigenous peoples.

In addition to producing policy briefs and a co-authored book, and organizing a conference, this project will produce a synthesis and comparison of indigenous engagement with the global governance institutions, and with the policy contexts and models of governance (self and state) of indigenous populations in settler nations within North America, Australasia and South America. The IIRGP will build capacity to advance scholarship on the relationships between international norms on human, minority and indigenous rights and evolving governance frameworks at the regional, national and local level. The research network will examine shared challenges and potential innovations with respect to a range of different actors and jurisdictions, with particular attention to relations between states and indigenous peoples. Through knowledge sharing across regions and cultures, it will seek to identify the conditions required to recognize and sustain greater indigenous self-government and self-determination. This project was launched in 2012.

Related Materials

The Internationalization of Indigenous Rights: UNDRIP in the Canadian Context

December 4, 2014
Edited by: Terry Mitchell
This special report is comprised of 11 papers, which provide reflections on the internationalization of indigenous rights and the relevance and positioning of UNDRIP within and by Canada. The papers were written by indigenous and non-indigenous scholars from a variety of disciplines including history, political science, law, psychology, sociology and Native studies. Contributors discuss the historical importance of the declaration and the conflicted nature of Canada’s relationship to it. 

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Monitoring and Realizing Indigenous Rights in Canada

April 28, 2014
CIGI Policy Brief No. 39
Terry Mitchell and Charis Enns
Indigenous peoples in almost all countries experience a lack of recognition of their fundamental political and human rights; globally, they share the worst measures on all indicators of health, education, and social and political participation.

Inside the Issues 3.28 | Indigenous Rights in Global Governance

May 22, 2013
Andrew S. Thompson, Terry Mitchell, and José Aylwin
With states issuing apologies to indigenous peoples and the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is an historically interesting time to consider questions around the internationalization of indigenous rights and governance.

CIGI announces eight collaborative research awards for professors at Laurier and University of Waterloo

Thursday, May 31, 2012
News Release
The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) today announced that eight research projects directed by faculty members at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo are being supported by CIGI research awards.
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