The article examines the re-emergence of indigenous rights in contemporary international law in the context of worldwide agitation by indigenous peoples for the adoption by the United Nations of a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Two approaches to the protection of indigenous rights are considered: a minimal one that relies on existing human rights conventions, and an inspirational one that seeks a Declaration negotiated in partnership with states willing to recognise indigenous autonomy. Attention is given to judicial recognition of the right to self-determination as a right of free choice, and to the distinction between minority rights and indigenous autonomy. The importance of defining indigenous self-determination in a positive way is emphasised, and prospects for a new UN permanent indigenous forum overcoming the stalemate about indigenous rights are reviewed in terms of the need for greater dialogue.
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