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Shaping Indigenous Self-Determination: Promising or Unsatisfactory Solutions?

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The right of peoples to self-determination represents one of the most controversial norms of international law. In particular, two questions connected with the meaning and scope of this right have been traditionally contentious: first, who constitutes a ‘people’ for the purposes of self-determination, and, secondly, what does the right of self-determination actually imply for its legitimate holders. Against this unsettled background, the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) affirmed, in a straightforward manner, that indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. In light of the uncertainties that were mentioned above, it becomes necessary to clarify the actual implications of this important recognition. This article will seek to do so by discussing the drafting history of the provision on self-determination contained in the UNDRIP and positioning it within the broader normative framework of the instrument.

Affiliations: 1: The City Law School, City University (London)


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