Human Rights Review

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 327–347 | Cite as

Indigenous Rights, Global Governance, and State Sovereignty



This article discusses indigenous rights within the context of global governance. I begin by defining the terms “global governance” and “indigenous peoples” and summarizing the rights that are most important to indigenous peoples. The bulk of this article studies the global governance of indigenous rights in three areas. The first example is the creation of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A second example involves violations of indigenous rights brought before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. A third case looks at a relatively new international regime created by indigenous peoples themselves—the Inuit Circumpolar Council. I conclude by using theories of sovereignty to assess the relative successes and failures of indigenous efforts to secure their rights.


Indigenous rights Global governance Sovereignty The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples The Inter-American Court of Human Rights The Inuit Circumpolar Council 


  1. American Society of International Law (2007) United States Joins Australia and New Zealand in Criticizing Proposed Declaration of Indigenous Peoples.” American Journal of International Law, 101:1, 211–213.Google Scholar
  2. Anaya, S. James and Robert A. Williams (2001). “The Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights over Lands Under the Inter-American Human Rights System.” Harvard Human Rights Journal, 14, 33–86.Google Scholar
  3. Arctic Council Secretariat (2007). “About the Arctic Council.” Arctic Council. 22 Oct. 2007.
  4. Ba, Alice D. and Matthew J. Hoffmann (eds.) (2005). Contending Perspectives on Global Governance: Coherence, Contestation and World Order. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Barnett, Michael and Raymond Duvall (eds.) (2005). Power in Global Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge.Google Scholar
  6. Byers, Michael (2009). “Cold Peace: International Cooperation Takes Hold in the Arctic.” Project on U.S. Global Engagement at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs. 16 December 2009.
  7. Byers, Michael (2010). Who Owns the Arctic? Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre.Google Scholar
  8. Corntassel, Jeff (2007). “Partnership in Action? Indigenous Political Mobilization and Cooptation during the First Indigenous Decade.” Human Rights Quarterly, 29:1, 137–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cummins, Chip (2011). “Canada Escalates Its Arctic Activities.” Wall Street Journal, 22 August 2001.Google Scholar
  10. Daly, Matthew (2009). “Obama Strikes Deal in Indian Trust Suit.” Wilmington News Journal, Wilmington, Del., 9 December 2009.Google Scholar
  11. “General Assembly Adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (2007). General Assembly Press Release GA/10612.Google Scholar
  12. Gold, Russell (2011). “Arctic Riches Lure Explorers: Exxon, Shell Set to Pour Billions into Potentially Huge, Risky Prospects.” Wall Street Journal, 1 September 2011.Google Scholar
  13. Hannum, Hurst (2003). “Indigenous Rights,” in Lyons and Mayall.Google Scholar
  14. Hoffmann, Matthew J. (2005). Ozone Depletion and Climate Change: Constructing a Global Response. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  15. IACHR (1989). Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 1988–1989. Google Scholar
  16. ILO (1989). International Labor Organization Convention No. 169 “Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries,” adopted 27 June 1989.Google Scholar
  17. Inuit Circumpolar Council (2009). A Circumpolar Council Declaration on Sovereignty in the Arctic.
  18. Inuit Circumpolar Council (2010). Inuit Circumpolar Council, (annual reports for years 2007–2010).
  19. Keohane, Robert (1989). International Institutions and State Power. Boulder, Co.: Westview.Google Scholar
  20. Krasner, Stephen (1983). International Regimes. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell.Google Scholar
  21. Lam, Maivan Clech (2000). At the Edge of the State: Indigenous Peoples and Self-Determination. Ardsley, N.Y.: Transnational.Google Scholar
  22. Lauderdale, Pat and Nicholas D. Natividad (2010). “Global Indigenous Rights and Responses.” In Robert A. Denemark (ed.), International Studies Encyclopedia. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 3036–3056.Google Scholar
  23. Lynge, Aqqaluk (2006). “Statement, Press Conference, UN Headquarters.”
  24. Lynge, Aqqaluk (2009). “Keynote: Circumpolar Indigenous Peoples.” International Experts Meeting, UNESCO Climate Change and Arctic Sustainable Development: Monaco.
  25. Lyons, Gene M. and James Mayall (eds.) (2003). International Human Rights in the 21st Century: Protecting the Rights of Groups. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  26. McMullen, Ronald K. (1993). “Ethnic Conflict in Russia: Implications for the United States.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 16:3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Meyer, William H. (2005). “Human Rights, Global Governance and International Justice.” Poroi, 4:2, June, 2005, http://inpress.lib.uiowa/poroi/papers.
  28. Minority Rights Group (1994). Polar Peoples: Self-Determination and Development. London: Minority Rights Publications.Google Scholar
  29. “Position of the United States on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (2007). Explanation of Vote by Robert Hagan to the UN General Assembly. 13 September 2007.>
  30. Power, Simon (2009). Interview with Catherine Delahunty during “Questions for Oral Answer” in the New Zealand Parliament, 30 July 2009.>
  31. Quane, Helen (2005). “The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Development Process.” Human Rights Quarterly, 27:2, 625–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rivzi, Haider (2009). “U.S.: Obama Urged to Sign Native Rights Declaration.”
  33. Rosenau, James N. (1997). Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier: Exploring Governance in a Turbulent World. Cambridge: Cambridge University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rosenau, James N. (2003). Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization. Princeton: Princeton.Google Scholar
  35. Rowe, Mark (2008). “In Conversation.” Geographical. Feb. 2008:98. Academic OneFile.
  36. Shadian, Jessica (2010). “From States to Polities: Reconceptualizing Sovereignty through Inuit Governance.” European Journal of International Relations, 20:10, 1–26Google Scholar
  37. Stamatopoulou, Elsa (1994). “Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations: Human Rights as a Developing Dynamic.” Human Rights Quarterly, 16:1, 58–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Watt-Cloutier, Shelia (2004). “Climate Change and Human Rights.” Human Rights Dialogue: Environmental Rights. 22 April 2004. Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
  39. Zion, James (2000). Email message to the Native Law Center, 22 November 2000.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

Personalised recommendations