Mandating Recognition: International Law and Native/Aboriginal Title
Owen J. Lynch
Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), 2011 | ISBN: 978-0-9833674-1-3

This essay identifies, summarizes and analyses leading international and national laws and judicial cases recognizing or otherwise supportive of native/aboriginal title. Native/aboriginal titles are commu­nity-based property rights typically held by indigenous peoples and some other original, long-term-occupant local communities. The paper evinces widespread and growing evidence that international law is moving towards (and arguably already is) mandating legal recognition of native/aboriginal title to indig­enous territories and ancestral domains. It references decisions of the International Court of Justice, the Inter-American Court and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. This emerging mandate in favor of native/aboriginal title is also apparent in international conventions and declarations, as well as at least fourteen nation states that are already obliged under domestic law, albeit in differing ways, to recognize indigenous peoples’ and others’ native/aboriginal titles. In addition, since 1968 eleven African nations have recognized customary rights as including property rights in their constitutions and/or land laws. The study aims to establish that the trend in international law – as conventionally understood, as well as customary international law as evinced in the domestic law of a growing number of states – is moving towards mandating the legal recognition of native/aboriginal title. Download the study [pdf] …