In Avigail Eisenberg & Jeff Spinner-Halev (eds.), Minorities Within Minorities: Equality, Rights and Diversity. Cambridge University Press. pp. 294 (2005)

Cindy Holder
University of Victoria
Conventional wisdom suggests that promoting self-determination for peoples and protecting the human rights of individuals are competing priorities. By this is meant that securing individuals in their human rights requires limits on the rights of their peoples, and vice versa. In contrast, the Draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Draft Declaration) treats the two as not only mutually supporting but mutually necessary. In the Draft Declaration, the right of peoples to self-determination is more than a principle that constrains states in their behavior towards other states and territories “outre-mer”; it also constrains states within their domestic realm. This view of self-determination reflects the experience of many indigenous groups, for whom refusal to respect the integrity of their group and failure to respect the integrity of their persons have gone hand in hand. In this chapter, I argue that the Draft Declaration’s treatment of self-determination is right: self-determination is a human right and this human right is the same right that underpins the rights of states. Treating an interest of peoples like self-determination as a constitutive element of human dignity raises practical worries about the stability of the international system, and philosophical worries about potential conflicts between individuals and peoples. But it also casts state sovereignty itself in a different light. This new light has interesting consequences both for international law and for philosophical debates about minorities within minorities. In particular, it allows one to think about questions about internal minorities as ultimately questions about legitimacy and representation.
Keywords minority rights  self-determination  indigenous peoples  international law  human rights  UNDRIP  group rights
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