The Public Interest to Environmental Protection and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: Procedural Rights to Participation and Substantive Guarantees
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This contribution aims to explore the ways in which the right to participation of indigenous peoples has been framed in the decisions of human rights treaty bodies. In line with the purposes of volume in which it is included, this contribution concentrates on public participation, and it only refers to information and access to justice when relevant for clarifying aspects of participatory rights. This chapter argues that the right to participation has both procedural and substantive implications for indigenous peoples. Indeed, the right to be consulted is not the only manifestation of the right of indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making processes. The qualification of effectiveness that human rights treaty bodies have elaborated on, as well as the consent requirement evoked in some specific circumstances, may give indigenous peoples substantive powers in terms of land and resource management, as well as constituting an instrument for reviewing the merits of the policies promoted by the State or private actors. This chapter also contends that collective rights can give the public interest component of participation a new meaning. The general interest of larger national societies is in fact to be balanced against the consideration of the collective interests of national groups.
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