Indigenous Peoples’ Right(s) to Land in Latin America
This paper aims to give an overview on the right(s) to land of indigenous peoples in Latin America. Firstly, it shortly discusses why the right(s) to land is of the utmost importance for indigenous peoples, what it signifies for them and its multiple natures. Secondly, the international protection system of such right is presented. Nowadays there is a wide range of international actors that monitor and pledge to safeguard indigenous rights, and thus, their right(s) to land. General human rights instruments may also guarantee indigenous rights. However, there are two instruments of international law that specifically protect the rights of indigenous peoples, namely the International Labour Organization’s Convention No.169 of 1989 (“Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries”), and the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007. Hence, the provisions regarding the right(s) to land of indigenous peoples through these instruments are discussed. These apparatuses provide indigenous peoples with a number of relevant rights and set the standard for their protection, however, their implementation is left up to the State. The majority of the Latin American countries fail to apply the rights contained in the two above-mentioned international instruments, as well as their own Constitutions. This has caused, and continues to cause, land disputes in which indigenous peoples are often not in the position to protect their right(s) to land due to a set of causes that will be explored. Due to the failure of the States to comply with their obligations, indigenous peoples have resorted to taking their cases before domestic and international (human rights) courts. In particular, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights started creating interesting and evolving jurisprudence since 2001 regarding the right(s) to land of indigenous peoples. A number of landmark decisions of the Court are thus illustrated. The paper finalizes with some conclusions and recommendations. As required by the conference, , this paper attempts to highlight the potential role of the European Union to ensure a proper application of indigenous land right(s) in Latin America, and to draw on these lessons for the European context.