Saturday, September 05, 2009

Clouded Title

In the comprehensive report Indigenous World 2009, the evolving set of relations between indigenous nations and modern states is examined in detail. Within the new context of international human rights instruments developed for this purpose, the majority of states continue to pursue a policy of assimilation or other forms of annihilation of indigenous cultures. Included in their strategies are the assassination and co-opting of traditional leaders in support of the neoliberal development model.

The primary change resulting from recently adopted UN instruments appears to be greater participation by indigenous peoples within the state model, with little observation in practice by states of the principles of international humanitarian law cited in their constitutional reforms. As extractive industries continue to exploit indigenous territories with state military and police backing, the clouded title of state and corporate interests in inherent indigenous property is no clearer than it was under colonialism.

What is clearer, though, is indigenous consciousness, communication and organization. Notwithstanding the moral social shortcomings of the states reviewed, the report itself is a remarkable achievement. The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs deserves our thanks.

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