Indigenous Rights

Indigenous peoples, often characterized by their unique languages, cultures, and deep-rooted ties to ancestral lands, have for centuries faced a myriad of challenges—from cultural erosion and language extinction to socioeconomic marginalization and denial of basic rights. Over the years, these challenges have been exacerbated by colonial legacies, land grabs, environmental degradation, and lack of representation in decision-making processes. Amidst these adversities, the international community, in 2015, adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Embedded within these goals is an implicit recognition that achieving true sustainable development requires the inclusion and participation of all societal groups, including indigenous peoples. The relevance of indigenous rights to the SDGs can be discerned through multiple lenses. First and foremost, SDG 10, which seeks to reduce inequality within and among countries, resonates deeply with the aspirations of indigenous communities for recognition and equality. For these communities, reducing inequalities often means securing land rights, accessing quality education that respects their cultural context, obtaining fair representation in governance structures, and benefiting equitably from the resources on and beneath their territories.

Similarly, SDG 4, which emphasizes inclusive and equitable quality education, has significant implications for indigenous peoples. The preservation of their languages, cultures, and traditional knowledge depends largely on education systems that are both inclusive of and responsive to their unique identities and histories. Then, there's SDG 15, which aims to protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. Indigenous peoples, often referred to as the “guardians of the earth,” possess deep-seated traditional knowledge that can offer invaluable insights into sustainable land and forest management practices. Their stewardship has, in many instances, maintained and even enhanced biodiversity in the world’s remaining forests and other critical ecosystems.

Furthermore, SDGs like clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), good health and well-being (SDG 3), and decent work and economic growth (SDG 8) have direct correlations with the aspirations of indigenous communities. It’s crucial to remember that the realization of the SDGs depends on the active participation of indigenous peoples. Their exclusion not only undermines the goals themselves but also risks perpetuating cycles of discrimination, inequality, and environmental degradation. As the world strives to meet the ambitious targets set out in the SDGs, it must remember the timeless adage: "Nothing about us, without us." The rights, wisdom, and aspirations of indigenous peoples are not just moral imperatives—they're critical to the vision of a sustainable, just, and equitable world.

Large crowd gathered with placards in protest

The Right to Protest: online panel discussion

LexisNexis is hosting a free, online panel discussion in partnership with the International Law Book Facility (ILBF) to explore the right to protest. 

24th January 2024 at 17:00-18:30 GMT

The panel discussion, moderated by James Harper, General Counsel of Global Nexis Solutions - part of LexisNexis, supports the ILBF's law undergraduate essay competition 2023-2024, that asks law undergraduates the question: ‘Should the right to protest be unfettered?

Knowledge of biological diversity is a major source of innovation. Collective intellectual property of traditional knowledge by Indigenous peoples and local communities is an important source of innovation and product development. This article investigates collective intellectual property systems on the traditional knowledge of Aspalathus linearis, also known as rooibos—an endemic plant from South Africa which is the basis of an important herbal tea industry. The article discusses how collective action and self-organization can generate collective intellectual property systems; indigenous peoples and local communities can develop these systems to protect their IP; how these systems can promote social justice and a more equitable distribution of benefits but can be sources of dispute between socio-economic groups and communities and can reproduce historical inequalities and power asymmetries.
This paper reviews the unique perspective that Indigenous People have on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the interactions between Indigenous Identities and HIV. The authors call for a human rights based approach to ending the HIV epidemic among Indigenous Peoples.

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples: Celebrating Our Global Cultural Tapestry

This article highlights that although Indigenous research governance is recognised as an essential part of ethical Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, activities and contributions made by Indigenous reference group (IRG) members are underreported. 
A Comment on planetary health and Indigenous land rights, in the context of SDGs 3, 15, and 17, focusing specifically on safeguarding biological and cultural diversity to halt ecosystem destruction, disease emergence, and climate change.

Indigenous People and Nature, Insights for Social, Ecological, and Technological Sustainability, 2022, Pages 3-27

This chapter provides a comprehensive strategy to assess ecological systems’ involvement in indigenous wellbeing, signifying how natural systems are intertwined with people’s communal, economic, and cultural environments, along with their skills.

Indigenous People and Nature, Insights for Social, Ecological, and Technological Sustainability, 2022, Pages 199-216

The indigenous peoples make a lasting impact on the society and people through their activities such as protection of the ecosystem, agriculture, and the maintenance of ethnic origin; these people are faced with many risks regarding health, sanitation, water, climate change, and pandemic. The chapter aims to determine the integration of the indigenous population into society and the functions of social work in this regard.