1st Edition

Transforming Law and Institution Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations and Human Rights

By Rhiannon Morgan Copyright 2011

    In the past thirty or so years, discussions of the status and rights of indigenous peoples have come to the forefront of the United Nations human rights agenda. During this period, indigenous peoples have emerged as legitimate subjects of international law with rights to exist as distinct peoples. At the same time, we have witnessed the establishment of a number of UN fora and mechanisms on indigenous issues, including the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, all pointing to the importance that the UN has come to place on the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples' rights. Morgan describes, analyses, and evaluates the efforts of the global indigenous movement to engender changes in UN discourse and international law on indigenous peoples' rights and to bring about certain institutional developments reflective of a heightened international concern. By the same token, focusing on the interaction of the global indigenous movement with the UN system, this book examines the reverse influence, that is, the ways in which interacting with the UN system has influenced the claims, tactical repertoires, and organizational structures of the movement.

    Contents: Introduction: indigenous peoples, the United Nations and human rights; United Nations engagement with indigenous issues; Theoretical framing; The development of a global movement; Claims of the global indigenous movement; Reconfiguring human rights; The impact of the global indigenous movement; References; Index.


    Dr Rhiannon Morgan, Senior Lecturer in Political Sociology, Oxford Brookes University, UK

    'How did indigenous peoples secure the right to self-determination in international law? Morgan's analysis shows how the "discursive activism" of the global indigenous movement within the UN succeeded in transforming accepted understandings and definitions of human rights norms. Theoretically sophisticated and rich in empirical detail, this analysis will appeal to scholars in social movement studies, international relations and the sociology of law.' Rachel Sieder, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS), Mexico 'Rhiannon Morgan's exciting, scholarly and elegantly written book on the indigenous peoples rights movement is a pleasure to read. Using a wide span of interdisciplinary knowledge and her own research at the UN, Dr. Morgan vividly explores the struggles between indigenous peoples, national governments and international bodies. Her analysis of the emerging spaces for the recognition of new rights that challenge the authority of the state is a genuinely original contribution.' Colin Samson, University of Essex, UK 'Rhiannon Morgan's Transforming Law and Institutions is timely and scholarly. It is not just that indigenous rights are in themselves significant. As Morgan correctly points out, their passage into law heralds a change in the nature of state sovereignty and its territorial borders, pointing to the growth of legal pluralism and to claims for self-determination on a global scale. A compelling and authoritative work.' Bryan S. Turner, The City University of New York, USA 'This book is a wide-ranging and thoughtful analysis of the global processes that culminated in the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Framed by the three components signalled in the subtitle, Rhiannon Morgan’s new book cumulatively builds towards an understanding of what should be conceptualized as an unprecedented occurrence within the United Nations and beyond. It is the transformation of laws and