Litigating indigenous peoples’ cultural rights: Comparative analysis of Kenya and Uganda

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Across Africa, indigenous peoples have increasingly approached
courts for legal redress for violations of their rights. Many
indigenous peoples have turned to litigation to reclaim their
rights over their ancestral territories and protection of their
cultural identity and heritage. Significantly, these claims have
been legally articulated as cultural rights since land rights are
connected with their right to culture, spirituality and cultural
survival. In examining the situation in Kenya and Uganda, this
article analyses how the framing of these claims under the banner
of indigenous peoples’ rights to culture could provide some of the
most marginalised communities with new legal avenues to
challenge the dominant cultural and developmental agenda
imposed by states’ authorities. In doing so, the article explores
how litigation and the use of international norms can contribute
to new interpretations of constitutional norms, allowing for a
more encompassing interpretation of cultural rights which
includes a customary cultural system of land usage. The article
argues that the recognised right to cultural integrity for
indigenous peoples could offer a relevant legal approach not only
in Kenya and Uganda but also for the whole continent.
Original languageEnglish
Article number
Pages (from-to)204
Number of pages222
JournalAfrican Studies
Early online date12 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2018

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