Academic Commons


Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice, Including Truth and Reconciliation Processes

Institute for the Study of Human Rights

Access to justice is a demand that increasingly underlies the major debates of our time, whether in the area of economic, political and social development, peace, human rights or culture. The issue is a bridge between the past, the present and the future as it refers to the entrenched marginalization of and systemic discrimination against members or groups of society. Access to justice is the stepping stone to address or remedy injustice. No area of human endeavor has given more meaning and normative content to the concept of access to justice than the human rights area, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The solid international human rights framework developed in the past seventy years and the ways it is being given depth through the interpretation of international human rights bodies is providing access to justice with the normative contours and specificity needed for practical implementation. Thus, access to justice is at once a substantive and a procedural right. Major elements such as the rule of law, the right to truth and other fundamental normative frameworks have added new weight to access to justice. It is within this rich human rights context that the effort to breathe new life to the struggle of Indigenous Peoples’ access to justice should be viewed. The mobilization around access to justice is shedding light on the concrete steps that can be followed for Indigenous Peoples’ access to justice to materialize. The articles contributed to this book are written by Indigenous Peoples, researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and academics, capturing a variety of international and national perspectives, based both on theory and on the analysis of specific cases and examples. Most of the articles have been contributed by participants to the International Expert Seminar on Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice, including Truth and Reconciliation Processes held from February 27th to March 1st, 2013 at Columbia University in New York, co-hosted by the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and held to inform the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ Study on Access to Justice in the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition, the co-editors found it useful to invite some authors who were not present at the Seminar to make their contributions. Thus, this volume captures a variety of subjects that fall under the broad topic of “Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice.”


More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Published Here
March 25, 2015


Individual chapters from this book are available in Academic Commons at the following links:

Dalee Sambo Dorough - "Indigenous People's Right to Self-Determination and Other Rights Related to Access to Justice",;

Alexandra Xanthaki - "Normative Directions",;

Andrea Carmen - "The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for Access to Justice, Redress, Restitution, and Non-recurrence Regarding Violation of Rights Affirmed in Treaties Between Indigenous Nations and States",;

Tammy Solonec, Katie Kiss - "Access to Justice in Australia-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People's Experience",;

Valmaine Toki - "The Issues of the Criminal Justice System and of Resources in Aotearoa/Newzealand",;

Laura A. Young, Abraham Korir Sing'Oei - "Access to Justice for Indigenous Peoples in Africa",;

Antonio M. Cisneros de Alencar - "Empowering Indigenous People to claim their Rights before National Courts, an Experience from Guatemala",;

Marie Wilson - "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada",;

Bennett Collins, Siobhan McEvoy-Levy, Alison Watson - "The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Perceptions and Understandings",;

Marcia Esparza, "Impossible Memory and Post-Colonial Silences: A Critical View of the Historical Clarification Commision (CEH) or Truth Commision in Guatemala",;

M. Florencia Librizzi - "Challenges of the Truth Commisions to Deal with Injustice Against Indigenous Peoples",;

Elsa Stamatopoulou - "The Challenge of Time and Responses of International Human Rights Law",;

Paige Arthur - Indigenous Self-Determination and Political Rights: Practical Recommendations for Truth Commisions,;

Nekane Lavin - "A Human Rights-Based Approach to Truth and Reconciliation",;

Valmaine Toki - "Indigenous Children and Youth: The Case of Marae Courts in Aotearoa/Newzealand",;

Denise K. Lajimodiere - "American Indian Boarding Schools in the United States: A Brief History and Legacy",;

Denise K. Lajimodiere, Andrea Carmen - "The Case of Boarding Schools in the United States of America",;

Asian Indigenous People Pact - "Case Studies in Asia Regarding Indigenous Women, Development, and Access to Justice",;

Carol Pollack - "Access to Justice for Indigenous Persons with Disabilities: Key Issues and Opportunities",;

Ramy Bulan - "Dispute Resolution: Restorative Justice Under Native Customary Justice in Malaysia",;

Erika Sasson - "Indigenous Approaches to Justice in the State Court System",;

Center for Legal Action in Human Rights (CALDH) - "Guatemala: Today for the First Time in 500 Years We Have the Opportunity to Put Perpetrators of Genocide on Trial",;

John Washburn - "The International Criminal Court and Indigenous People's Opportunities and Limitations",;

Kai Landow - "Invisible Law, Visible",;

Harry Jonas, Holly Jonas, Jael Eli Makagon - Introducing the Living Convention and Landscape Approach to Legal Empowerment,