Relationship Between International Law and Indigenous People

The purpose of this paper is to analyze and examine the relationship between international law and the rights of local/native/home-grown or widely known as indigenous people. First of all we need to look at the characteristics of native people. Indigenous people also known as aboriginal natives are people who were originally living in the land before new societies colonized it and started governing them. Being natives and the original inhabitants of the land these people consider themselves different as compared to the new settlements and governments that then rule them.

Indigenous peoples as defined by UN special Rapporteur, Mr. Jose R. Martinez Cabo, to the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities , Indigenous communities , Peoples and Nations in the year 1984 as; That these people are those who have historical continuity with their race culture and heritage, from before pre invasion and new settlements that now prevail on their lands.

They are at present non dominant sector of the global society and they tend to transfer their skills, heritage, culture, traditions, norms and customs to their coming generations so that their coming generations can also continue with the same ethnicity and cultural background as of their ancestors. They do this as they believe that they have the right to be self determinate, in accordance to their own culture, social and legal system. (Martinez-Cobo, 1984)

Found all over the world, all of these communities though varying widely in terms of ethnic back ground, religion, language and cultural, posses one distinctive quality, that is they know that they have the right to Self-Determination in order to safe guard and preserve their original heritage and cultural that can be and is disrupted by the new governing settlements and societies in their land. For them their own heritage and practices remain superior to them rather then adopting the new order brought by the societies who come to rule their place for the sake and in pursuit of globalization. The areas where these societies can be found are:

They are found all over the world such as; Peoples of North America, American Indians and Alaska Natives; the Lapp people of Norway they are also seen in Greenland, Finland and Sweden; Celtic peoples of the British Isles; Native Hawaiians, to a limited sense; Canadian Indians and Inuit; Eskimo peoples residing in Alaska, Canada and western Greenland; The Berbers and the San or Bushmen in Africa; South Pacific Islanders; New Zealand Maoris; Peoples of Latin America, Tribal People of India; Brittany in France ; Mexican Indians; Australian Aborigines; In Bangladesh ,the Chittagong Hill People; Galicia in Spain; And the Ainu people in Japan.

(Lam 56) International Law After defining indigenous societies and communities and knowing where they are found, now we come to the characteristics and the scope of international law. International law can be defined as system designed to regulate and control nation states in terms of agreements that bind them with respect to norms and customs of different societies both generally and particularly. This means that they need to abide by certain rules and regulations regarding people both with in their states and also when dealing with them internationally.

Problems of communities like indigenous people are dealt under international law in the form o Treaties, among states and societies and they are regulated by international Groups which monitor these treaties so that they are respected by both the parties concerned and the rules and regulations that are formulated under these treaties are followed. “Treaties can be rightly defined as international conventions weather general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contracting states. ” (Westra 71) [International Law, Cases and Materials, 2nd edition, Henkin, Pugh, Schachter, and Smith, West Publishing Co. , 1987. p. 69]