This research project explores the recognition of the right to traditional lands and natural resources by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and their interrelation with Indigenous Peoples’ rights to cultural identity and dignified life.

Worldwide, indigenous peoples have suffered from the lack of recognition of their right to enjoy and own the lands and natural resources that they have traditionally occupied and used since time immemorial. The lack of access to these lands and territories has not only endangered their physical survival, but also the perpetuation of their ancestral culture as well as the maintenance and development of their distinguishable cultural identity.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I-ACtHR) was the first human rights international judicial body to recognize the right to communal property of indigenous and tribal communities over their ancestral lands and natural resources that they have traditionally used. Since the adoption of the landmark judgment in the Case of Mayana (Sumo) Awas Tingni Community vs. Nicaragua (2001), the I-ACHR has developed an innovative jurisprudence that shows a sensitive inclination towards the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and cultural understandings. This jurisprudence has not only paved the way for the amelioration of the life of thousands of indigenous peoples in the Americas, but it has also strengthened the protection of their rights within other regional systems that have found inspiration in this legal development.

The outcome of this project is to contribute to the scientific debate in this area through participation in two international conferences with the presentation of two different scientific papers, and a publication of a scholarly article in a leading international peer-reviewed journal.



Project owner:

Alejandro Fuentes

Senior Researcher

+46 46 222 10 46