Land rights and the forest peoples of Africa: historical, legal and anthropological perspectives: legal rights under international law

Gilbert, Jérémie and Coulliard, Valerie (2009) Land rights and the forest peoples of Africa: historical, legal and anthropological perspectives: legal rights under international law. Forest Peoples Programme, Moreton-in-Marsh, UK. . [Book]

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International law, and more particularly international human rights law, has for some time been seen as a positive tool to support indigenous peoples’ rights; when it comes to land rights, however, such positivity is new. September 2007 marked the start of a new era for indigenous peoples, with the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Despite this recent development, international law has historically played a negative role regarding indigenous peoples’ rights, and more especially their rights to land. An important tool in the hands of the colonial powers, international law has been a central vehicle in the dispossession of indigenous peoples. Most of the rules regarding title to territory under international law were aimed at justifying the dispossession of indigenous peoples of their lands. While various legal systems applied, during colonisation, to land rights for indigenous peoples – depending on which state was the coloniser – international law played the role of common denominator, ensuring that all powers adhered to the same legal doctrine. The rules governing title to territory under international law became the basis of the ‘rules of the game’ between the colonial powers, and as such had a direct impact on indigenous peoples’ land rights. Because of this legacy, international law still plays a huge
part in the contemporary situations faced by indigenous communities throughout the continent today. But this legacy is seriously challenged by recent development stemming from
international human rights law. The first part of this chapter provides the historical background, setting out the complexity of contemporary indigenous land claims. Based on
this analysis, the second part of the chapter examines the content of states’ obligations regarding land rights for indigenous peoples under international human rights law.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: Valérie Couillard and Jérémie Gilbert responsible for part 2 of this publication (p28-52) entitled: Land rights under international law: historical and contemporary issues.
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 9149
Notes on copyright: Yes
Depositing User: Dr. J Gilbert
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2012 10:26
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 01:26

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