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Conflict, peace and the human rights of Indigenous Peoples

Tauli-Corpuz, Victoria

Conflicts affecting indigenous peoples can often be traced back to long-standing historical injustices and discrimination originating in the context of colonization and dispossession of indigenous peoples’ lands, territories and resources. Many indigenous peoples reside in ancestral territories that are rich in natural resources. Land disputes are frequently the root cause of conflict as indigenous peoples are faced with dominant and powerful political and economic interests who use the state institutions (e.g., police, military, courts) and state laws to seek control over their lands and exploit their resources. In many instances, there are private interests behind this, and they utilise the presence of armed actors to facilitate land grabbing and exploitation of natural resources such as minerals and metals, oil, gas and coal, timber and water. In other situations, armed groups claim ideological grounds for occupying indigenous lands and seek to involve indigenous peoples in their armed struggle. The often-scarce presence of state institutions and services in indigenous territories leaves indigenous peoples particularly vulnerable to the force of non-state armed actors.

In this presentation, I wish to underline the international legal standards applicable in situations of armed conflict and I would like to highlight examples of two countries where indigenous peoples are caught in between on-going hostilities and continue to face serious violations of their rights. The two countries, Colombia and the Philippines, also highlight the challenges indigenous peoples face in the context of peace negotiations and transitional justice.

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Also Published In

Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace

More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Published Here
December 15, 2017


This is a chapter from "Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace". The entire volume is available in Academic Commons at

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