Paragraph 4 of the Preamble of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

International law discarded: “terra nullius”

The 1975 Western Sahara Opinion of the ICJ, which considered land agreements between indigenous peoples and states as: “derivative roots of title”

rather than recognizing original title obtained by occupation of terrae nullius.

In addition to recognizing the right to self-determination, the Declaration formulated an array of tailor-made collective rights including :

  • Indigenous peoples' right to maintain and develop distinct legal systems
  • unique political,
  • economic,
  • social,
  • cultural identities and characteristics.

The Declaration also set forth the right of indigenous groups to participate fully, "if they so choose,"

  • in the political,
  • economic,
  • social,
  • cultural life of the state.

It guaranteed indigenous people the right not to be:

  • subjected to genocide or ethnocide,
  • which the Declaration defined as action aimed or affecting their integrity as distinct peoples or their cultural values and identities:
  • including the dispossession of land,
  • forced relocation,
  • assimilation
  • integration
  • imposition of foreign lifestyles and propaganda.

The Declaration guaranteed to groups of indigenous peoples, but not individuals,

  • the right to observe, teach, practice tribal spiritual and religious traditions;
  • the right to maintain and protect manifestations of their cultures as archaeological and historical sites and artifacts;
  • the right to restitution of spiritual property taken without free and informed consent,
  • including the right to repatriate Indian human remains;
  • and the right to protection of sacred place and burial sites.

The Declaration listed indigenous peoples' rights:

  • To maintain and use tribal languages,
  • To transmit oral histories and traditions,
  • To be educated in tribal languages,
  • To control their own educational systems.

It afforded indigenous peoples the right to maintain and develop:

  • Political,
  • Economic,
  • Social Systems,
  • Determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development.

Their treaties with states should be:

  • Recognized,
  • Observed,
  • Enforced.

The Declaration supports:

  • The right of indigenous people to own,
  • Develop,
  • Control,
  • Use the lands and territories that they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used,
  • Including the right to restitution of lands confiscated, occupied, or otherwise taken without free and informed consent, with the option of just and fair compensation whenever such return is not possible.

International law pertaining to the indigenous communities includes and is not limited to:

The notion of individual rights rooted in the dignity of each person.

The concept of individual human rights led to the recognition of individual rights against the state, prescribed and enforced internationally through universal and regional treaty arrangements the Vienna Convention and the UN Charter.

This assortment of rights, spearheaded by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, did not, like the original French Declaration "des droits de l'homme et du citoyen", contain group rights.

Even Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) --often deemed to confer a universal group right--in fact only granted individual members of a minority the right to celebrate their culture.