Culture Diversity, Indigenous People and traditional lands claims under the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

By: Alejandro Fuentes

LUP ID: 3d381e2e-e011-4231-9db8-6b69c6dcd27a

Page Reference: 36-36

How supra-national system of human rights protection deal with cultural diversity? In particular, how the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (here in after I-ACtHR or the Court) judicates the claims put forward by Indigenous Peoples in the Americas in connection with the right to property over their traditional lands and natural resources? And, which are the interpretative tools use by the Court when has to deal with those demands?
This paper will try to answer these pregnant questions. The focus of it will be on the systematic analysis of the jurisprudences of the I-ACtHR, or at least of the most relevant part of it, referring to the Indigenous Peoples’ claims for protection of their traditional land and resources, and the importance –from the legal perspective- of the existing relationship between these lands, their traditional culture and identity. In fact, as result of the Indigenous Peoples struggles for the recognition and protection of their human rights in the Americas, the Court has developed in a recent years a landmark jurisprudence on indigenous peoples’ rights, especially in relation with their right to communal property of their traditional lands and, intrinsically connected with the later, their right to enjoy their own culture and traditions as different peoples.
Therefore, this paper will effectively deal with the Court’s reasoning, with the legal argumentation behind these cases, and with the method of interpretation that permit the I-ACtHR provide protection to the Indigenous Peoples’ traditional lands and resources, through –essentially- the protection of their culture, identity and –above all- their right to life (lato sensu), merely, their right to have and enjoy a dignified life. Indeed, the author argues in this paper that is precisely because the intimate connection that exist between their traditional lands, their culture and identity, that the Indigenous Peoples’ claims in connection with their traditional lands deserves an especial protection under the American Convention on Human Rights. It is throughout this especial protection that these peoples will possibly have access to and enjoy of a dignified life as different peoples, according with their traditions and costumes.
Finally, this paper will address the possible restrictions or limitations of Indigenous Peoples’ right to communal property could faces within the framework of the American Convention, not only vis-à-vis other possible property claims generated by members of the majoritarian part of the society, but also vis-à-vis a situation in which at stake would be the general interest of the whole community, in a pluralist and democratic society.

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