Indigenous Peoples and the Right of Political Autonomy in an Age of Global Legal Pluralism

Steven Wheatley

in Law and Anthropology

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199580910
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723025 | DOI:

Series: Current Legal Issues

 Indigenous Peoples and the Right of Political Autonomy in an Age of Global Legal Pluralism

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This chapter focuses on the complexities that emerge in the system of global governance following the acceptance that indigenous peoples are ‘peoples’ with a right to self-government through (indigenous) law. The chapter proceeds as follows. It first provides an overview of the adoption of the UN Declaration and its status in international law, before examining the provisions on shared government and self-government. The Declaration reflects a condition of legal pluralism, and the chapter examines the meaning of the idea before considering its relevance beyond the state. It concludes on the need for a distinction to be made between normative pluralism and legal pluralism, and in doing so, develops a concept of law that applies to state law, international law, and the laws of indigenous peoples. The chapter then returns to the question of the conflict of law norms in conditions of global legal pluralism, complexity, uncertainty, and reasonable disagreement. It argues that legal orders should approach the question of the conflicts of laws from the perspective of democratic legitimacy. It questions whether it is appropriate to apply this ‘meta-perspective’ to the position of indigenous peoples, and concludes with a number of observations on the right of political participation for persons belonging to indigenous peoples in the fragmented system of global governance.

Keywords: global governance; indigenous peoples; Indigenous Peoples; law norms; legal pluralism

Chapter.  17209 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law

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