The Search for Legal Remedies
Edited by Randall S. Abate and Elizabeth Ann Kronk
Chapter 4: Introduction to indigenous sovereignty under international and domestic law
An examination of potential legal remedies available to indigenous communities is incomplete without a discussion of sovereignty. Whether an indigenous community possesses aspects of sovereignty is crucial to a determination of what legal options may be available to that community in its efforts to address climate change. Modern public international law and domestic law may treat indigenous sovereignty differently. This chapter, therefore, examines indigenous sovereignty and rights as recognized by public international law and then domestic law. The chapter begins by exploring the concept of sovereignty generally. Because an exploration of the sovereignty possessed by every indigenous community throughout the world would be difficult, the chapter then explores the sovereignty possessed by American Indian tribes as an example of how indigenous sovereignty has been treated under the domestic law of the United States of America. Ultimately, the chapter concludes that, while most indigenous communities no longer possess sovereignty akin to that possessed by nation states, indigenous sovereignty is still an important element to any legal claim brought by indigenous communities in response to climate change.
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