Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Traditional Lands and Exploitation of Natural Resources: The Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ Safeguards

in International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
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The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I-ACtHR) has developed remarkable jurisprudence for the protection of the right to communal property of indigenous and tribal communities with respect to the ancestral lands that they possess and traditionally used-natural resources, in order to guarantee their cultural and economic survival in the Americas. This article critically analyses the legal regime applicable for the protection of the right to traditional communal property of indigenous and tribal peoples in the Americas, its connection with their right to cultural identity, and the right to a dignified life. In particular, it pays specific attention to the right to effective participation and consultation of the indigenous communities affected; the obligation to share reasonable benefits with these communities; and the elaboration of a prior environmental and social impact assessment of any development investments, exploration or extraction plans.