Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples
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Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples

The Search for Legal Remedies

Edited by Randall S. Abate and Elizabeth Ann Kronk

Indigenous peoples occupy a unique niche within the climate justice movement, as many indigenous communities live subsistence lifestyles that are severely disrupted by the effects of climate change. Additionally, in many parts of the world, domestic law is applied differently to indigenous peoples than it is to their non-indigenous peers, further complicating the quest for legal remedies. The contributors to this book bring a range of expert legal perspectives to this complex discussion, offering both a comprehensive explanation of climate change-related problems faced by indigenous communities and a breakdown of various real world attempts to devise workable legal solutions. Regions covered include North and South America (Brazil, Canada, the US and the Arctic), the Pacific Islands (Fiji, Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia), Australia and New Zealand, Asia (China and Nepal) and Africa (Kenya).
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Chapter 3: Introduction to indigenous peoples’ status and rights under international human rights law

The Search for Legal Remedies

Lillian Aponte Miranda


The international system has undergone significant changes during the past 50 years with respect to the status and rights of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples have emerged as subjects of international law capable of contributing to international lawmaking processes aimed at defining indigenous identity and the formulation of rights. This momentous participation of indigenous peoples in international lawmaking has served as a catalyst for the evolution of a distinctive jurisprudence regarding indigenous peoples. This jurisprudence, which elaborates on indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination, cultural integrity and control over ancestral lands and resources, provides a platform for indigenous peoples to challenge the affronts of state development. One of the significant consequences of state development to indigenous peoples is environmental degradation, and, in particular, the environmental degradation resulting from climate change. While indigenous peoples have arguably been successful in promoting the recognition of their increased status and rights under international law, they nevertheless remain vulnerable to the potentially devastating consequences of climate change. At their most catastrophic level, such consequences include the complete destruction of an indigenous community’s identity and distinct way of life.

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