It is easy to detect a sense of achievement with the extent to which the human rights regime has progressed 60 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The relative international successes suggest a bright outlook for the future of the human rights regime. However, an important lacuna remains in the attention that ought to be paid to minorities, indigenous peoples and others in vulnerable situations, including in some instances, women. This paper argues that despite the creation of sophisticated systems of international human rights law, the regimes for the protection of minority rights were stronger before the United Nations (UN) era. In support of this argument it seeks to assess regimes that existed at three different times, attempting to extrapolate and analyse the snapshots presented by these through the lens of evolving human rights law.
The principle of self-determination has at heart the achievement of true representation and democracy based on the idea that the consent of the governed alone can give government legitimacy. The principle was primarily responsible for the decolonisation process that shaped our current international community. `Self-determination' has been used in equal rhetorical brilliance by a number of leaders - some meritorious, with a genuine concern for human emancipation, others dubious, with ascendancy to power at the heart of their project. In any case, `self-determination' has come to mean different things in different contexts.
Being a vital principle, especially in the post-colonial state, it is one factor that represents a threat to world order while at the same time holding out the promise of longer-term peace and security based on values of democracy, equity and justice. This book looks at the intricacies of the norm in its current ambiguous manifestation and seeks to deconstruct it with regard to three particularly inter-related discourses: that of minority rights, statehood and sovereignty, and the doctrine of
uti possidetis which shaped the modern post-colonial state.
These norms are then analysed further within two case studies. One, concerning the creation of Bangladesh where `self-determination' was achieved. The second, examines the situation in the Western Sahara where `self-determination' (whatever its manifestation) is yet to be expressed. In the course of these case studies we seek to highlight the problematic nature of `national identity' and the `self' in settings far removed from post-Westphalian Europe.
Recent years have been marked by a rise in “populism” and frenzied identity-based politics, and the continued exclusion of minority groups from meaningful participation in addressing problems faced by society. In this article, I assert that the only pragmatic way to address these issues is to guarantee the genuine social inclusion of all people, and to ensure that those seeking to build inclusive societies understand the role that human rights, minority rights, and identity should play in this process. Building upon these assertions, I identify the roots of minority rights protection, as well as the importance placed on identity in generating egalitarian societies. I also examine the UN human rights approach to minority protection, and highlight the backlash to identity-based politics. Finally, I advocate for the use of pragmatism in working to build inclusive societies, and offer a number of starting points towards such an approach.
This volume, a collection of essays by a variety of scholars in the field of indigenous rights, originates from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland in Galway. It highlights those instances in the work of international organizations where advances have been made concerning indigenous rights. It also devotes attention to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and to a number of thematic issues in the field. The human rights situations facing indigenous peoples in Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria and South Africa are dealt with in separate chapters. These surveys show a range of reactions to the multiple problems of discrimination, or lack of proper responses, as far as domestic legislation, national implementation of the laws, and national compliance with the applicable international standards are concerned.