Mega-Dams and Indigenous Human Rights
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Mega-Dams and Indigenous Human Rights

Itzchak Kornfeld

This original and insightful book explores and examines the impact that building mega-dams has on the human rights of those living in surrounding areas, and in particular those of indigenous peoples who are often most affected. Compiling case studies from around the world, Itzchak Kornfeld provides clear examples of how human rights violations are perpetrated and compounded, with chapters examining historical, recent and ongoing dam projects.
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Chapter 3: A brief survey of human rights law

Itzchak Kornfeld


The human rights field is a part of international law. Its aim, both as customary international law and via treaties, is to make certain that every human being is treated with respect and dignity. Human rights norms are instituted in order to safeguard every person’s most intrinsic and fundamental entitlements and freedoms. These rights are said to be “inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.” Indeed, human rights embrace the “right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education,” without discrimination. When mega-dams are planned and built, they are set where people, generally indigenous peoples, live and have lived for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. These people are ousted from their lands, losing their homes and their livelihoods. Promises made by governments to ousted people to resettle them are, more often than not, not kept.

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