The Japanese government legally recognized the Ainu as an Indigenous People in 2019. While the legislation is a step forward, it does not provide the Ainu with concrete rights applicable to Indigenous Peoples as those rights are set out in international legal standards, articulated in several human rights instruments and authoritative statements issued by both United Nations organs and the international treaty monitoring bodies. The most common issue concerning Indigenous Peoples’ rights is the practice of traditional livelihoods linked to their lands and resources. Particularly for coastal communities, traditional fishing has been recognized as an important livelihood for sustaining the people’s culture and their ethnic and cultural identity. This article explores the traditional fishing right of the Ainu, which has recently become a point of conflict given that existing local regulations jeopardize the right. The article critically examines the compatibility of the provisions of the conflicting local and national regulations.
This article examines challenges and opportunities resulting from the rapid expansion of information and communication technology (ICT), through their impacts on the traditional culture of a given community. The expansion of ICT extends to all spheres of our lives, and makes society globally-oriented, which has provided opportunities for communities located in remote regions to stay connected and participate in global issues, as well as to take advantage of new innovations, in a virtual environment. However, these developments have also resulted in tensions when considered from the perspective of maintaining fundamental values traditionally held by a community. These fundamental values are often developed from traditionally practiced social norms which, at times, are transformed to adapt to a new cultural reality in response to, for example, information-based technological development. Such developments may generate concern that information-based societal development will negatively influence the traditions and culture of communities, and indigenous communities in particular. These concerns suggest that the introduction of an invasive culture will affect the established community and their culture, who build their identity based on traditional norms. Many indigenous communities, whose identities are founded in nature-based traditional practices, are arguably afraid of losing their cultural values as a result of new information-based societal development. It is based on this premise that the following article considers the Sámi indigenous community of the European High North (EHN) as case study, to argue that culture is a transformational, and not a static, element in any given society; it highlights that information-based cultural development and traditional norms can be mutually re-enforcing. The article argues that culture should be viewed holistically, and that the integration of information-based societal development within traditional culture and identity contribute to cultural modernisation.
Two International Covenants (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) in common Article 1 highlighted that 'all peoples' have the right to self-determination to freely determine their 'political status' and freely dispose of their 'natural wealth and resources'. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in Article 27 provides protection of the rights belonging to minority cultures, religion and language. The idea of 'indigenous peoples' was apparently an underdeveloped area at the time of the adoption of the Covenants. The concept of indigenous peoples' rights has developed relatively recently. Thus, whether indigenous peoples are 'peoples' within the meaning of the Covenant, and thereby may be capable of enjoying the right to self-determination has been an unsettled case. When in many countries indigenous peoples form a minority, they are, however, identical as distinct from other minority groups in those countries because of their own way of livelihood and preservation of traditional culture and knowledge. Recent normative development pronounced by the Human Rights Committee suggests that indigenous peoples should be treated as 'peoples' within the meaning of Article 1 of the Covenant and as 'people' they have right to enjoy their traditional way of livelihood including right to enjoy their culture. Thus, the main focus of the article is to examine whether a human rights approach to indigenous peoples' rights has evolved to challenge the international regulatory approach currently applicable to the management of Whale and Polar Bear regime and their traditional hunt by the indigenous peoples.
Traditional knowledge offfers significant contribution to the intellectual creations. While authors of intellectual creations are protected within the intellectual property rights regime, the authors of traditional knowledge, however, are not. Intellectual property rights regime offfers certain exclusive rights over the innovations of private authors leaving holders of traditional knowledge aside. Given the collective nature of knowledge held traditionally by a community, and unknown in the intellectual property rights system, traditional knowledge faces complexity to be included within the existing intellectual property rights system, and hence, demands alternative protection regime. This article argues human rights approach as an alternative protection regime for the traditional knowledge – the knowledge mostly held by the indigenous communities. The article examines specific human rights provisions embodied in the international bill of human rights pertaining to both right to enjoy a culture and right to enjoy ‘moral and material’ interests arguing that traditional knowledge form a part of culture, and that such culture-oriented right generates economic interests akin to that of intellectual property right system, albeit within the framework of human rights. While the Saami are the indigenous people holding diverse traditional knowledge of great importance, the article also addresses the specific provisions of the Draft Nordic Saami Convention in order to examine how efffectively the Saami’s traditional knowledge right is protected within the regime of human rights.