Accepted Paper:

International water law and the rights of indigenous people  


James Phillips (Wichita Indochinese Center)

Paper short abstract:

International law protects the right of indigenous peoples to use of water: such legal guarantees are essential to the preservation of indigenous cultures.

Paper long abstract:

Indigenous communities depend on access to water in order to maintain their lives, their livelihoods and cultural traditions. Moreover, the international right to clean water is part and parcel of indigenous land rights. The preservation of indigenous communities and their knowledge contributes to the pursuit of equitable distribution of land and resources and environmental sustainability around the globe.

International law provides remedies to indigenous communities in their fight against privatization and pollution of their water by neoliberal governments and predatory corporations. Article 26 of the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (207) states that: AIndigenous peoples have the right to land, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied and otherwise used or acquired.@ Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) states that indigenous peoples have the Aright to enjoy their own culture.@ This paper will examine the above international documents and other provisions of international law which have been used and may be used in the future by indigenous peoples in international tribunals and state courts to secure their access to clean water.

Panel BH04
Indigenous knowledge and sustainable development (IUAES Commission on Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainable Development)