Indigenous Peoples and Litigation: Strategies for Legal Empowerment

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Across the globe indigenous peoples are increasingly using litigation to seek remedies for violation of their fundamental human rights. The rise of litigation is to be placed in the larger issue of increased land grabbing, natural resources exploitation and the general lack of recognition of their rights at the national level. This lack of legal rights is usually coupled with a lack of political will to address the issues faced by indigenous peoples, often leading to serious human rights violations, leaving indigenous advocates with few options but to turn to courts as a last resort to seek remedies. This article examines some of the issues faced by indigenous peoples and their advocates when engaging in human rights litigation. The goal is to offer a practice-based reflection on the encounter between courts and indigenous peoples with a specific focus on analysing strategies to ensure their legal empowerment. This is particularly important knowing the technicality, externalities and complexities of the process of litigation, and the fact that many decisions do not get implemented. In this context this article explores how the process of litigation in itself can support legal empowerment and the wider fight for justice.

© 2020, The Author(s). The attached document (embargoed until 10/10/2022) is an author produced version of a paper published in JOURNAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICE uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageUndefined
Article numberhuaa028
Pages (from-to)301–320
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Human Rights Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2020


  • human rights
  • indigenous peoples
  • Litigation
  • legal empowerment

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