CORDIS - EU research results

Scale of governance, the UN, the States and Indigenous peoples human rights: the meanings and issues of self-determination in the time of globalization

Final Report Summary - SOGIP (Scale of governance, the UN, the States and Indigenous peoples human rights: the meanings and issues of self-determination in the time of globalization)

How do indigenous people who know of different patterns of cultural, social and political organizations, and live under different political regimes and legal State apparatuses, build models of free choice to ensure their future? SOGIP research analyzed indigenous peoples rights and policy issues within a theoretical framework that links international law to national policies and social change among indigenous communities, with a focus on “institutionalization”. This element embodied in the concept of scales of governance, connects historic temporalities, from colonization to the making of nation-states, with the implementation of multicultural policies, globalization and the projects of indigenous peoples. The research team contextualized the models of autonomy that are in the making, as well as the forms of dependence, which develop through the triangle including Indigenous Peoples, the States and the Market. The research identified the drivers of change, the external and internal conditions that fall upon indigenous socio-political organization, and explored the limits between “law” and “tradition”.
The SOGIP research team studied the ways in which the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as other UN norms and Conventions relevant to Indigenous peoples rights, are endorsed or dismissed by the States or by corporations and are known by civil society. We focused on operational procedures in which indigenous issues are taken into programmatic or regulatory consideration, taking the UNDRIP as a point of departure from which we identified the potential for change, the points of resistance and the sources of further conflicts. We compiled a table of comparative elements, including: general data (to contextualize); the regime of law and the political system (to identify the State in its relation with Indigenous issues); a historical timeline that follows the moments of normative integration, and analytical sociological data
The research included: Southern Africa - Botswana, Namibia; South America- Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, French Guyana, Mexico; Asia – India; South Pacific – Australia, New Caledonia, and the United Nations (headquarters and agencies) as field sites. Taking advantage of the regional and thematic specialization of the team, which included anthropologists, sociologists and jurists, the research focused on 4 inter-weaving thematic threads in order to approach the meanings of self-determination:
• International: the making of the UN-WCIP document (2014), legally comparable to UNDRIP, and the convening of 2 World conferences (Rio+20 in 2012, COP21 in 2015) provided the opportunity to compare global scenarios and analyze, through factorial variations, the distribution of the world indigenous peoples movement human and political capacities.
• Issues of conflicts: Between 2010 and 2015, land rights and development issues have been examined as they relate to conflicts which did not diminished after the adoption of UNDRIP. New threats have been identified which menace indigenous peoples autonomy, and derive from business influence on states agendas. That constitutes serious challenges for building trust and improve the relationships between the states and the indigenous peoples.
• Legal debate: three issues emerged at the articulation of collective and individual rights and put into a larger perspective the issue of self-determination: Indigenous political participation; the justice system; inclusive, cultural or differentiated citizenship.
• Social, economic and cultural concerns: Education, health, economic and linguistic policies, the main domains of State interventions, remain a matter of preoccupation where “indigenous cultures” are confronted to larger agendas. SOGIP analyzed the practicality of indigenous education and identified some viable alternatives to formal education. We examined the issue of “interculturality” and identified the importance of tangible or intangible heritage issues: potential sources of conflicts in case of no respect of the consultation process, they can be areas of possible reconciliation.
Paradigms of indigeneity vary between and among the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. SOGIP created a space for discussing the complexity of indigenous issues, between the disciplines, and across regional cultural areas. It developed partnerships with scholars in several universities and disseminated the research widely. The website ( presents the ERC project, the team, its activities (seminars, conferences, publications) and keeps up on continuous information related to the research, including visual communication, access to electronic publications, and reviews of books. The ERC funded a project, which proved the importance of collaborative and comparative research in terms of scientific challenges to be taken as well as in terms of outcomes benefiting to the university, civil society and the social groups concerned by the research.