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The Legal Status of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) in Contemporary International Human Rights Law

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This article explores the legal status or effect of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in contemporary international human rights law. As a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution, the legal significance of UNDRIP may appear uncertain on the surface. However, several UNGA resolutions do carry some legal weight with far-reaching legal implications in international law. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) has been widely accepted, at least in part, as forming part of customary international law. Through a critical examination of relevant literature and some decisions of international, regional and national courts, this article examines whether the UNDRIP, in whole or in part, reflects customary international law. It also considers the relationship of the UNDRIP with other international human rights instruments, and whether it should be applied as part of general principles of law on issues that are essential to indigenous peoples such as non-discrimination, self-identification, land rights and development.

Affiliations: 1: Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK,


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