Advocating for the Rights of Indigenous People in International Law

Course number: LAW 3980

Course Objectives:

This course looks at how Indigenous peoples have engaged in international law as a site to gain protection of their rights and interests. Throughout the course, the students will be exposed to various international bodies, both global and regional, and examine the various articulations and protections of Indigenous peoples rights. The course begins by looking at specific categories of rights and how these rights have developed in international law. The second half of the course overviews the mechanisms that Indigenous people have engaged with – both general human rights mechanisms and mechanisms that are specifically focused on Indigenous peoples to see the depth and breadth of the scope of protection. The course concludes by addressing issues of implementing rights to ensure that Indigenous peoples can meaningfully exercise their rights. The primary focus of the course is how Indigenous people in Canada have engaged in international law and the response of Canadian state, but will also compare how have other states engaged in these dialogues.

Required Readings:

Materials include international conventions, decisions from international judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, international reports and academic scholarship.


This course will use a case study approach. Students will work in groups on a case preparing submissions for each phase of an international proceeding. The group will need to determine which is the most appropriate forum to bring their case. The cases will be based on recent Canadian decisions which have yielded an unsatisfactory decision for the Aboriginal community. Students will complete 5 assignments, each worth 15% (75%). Assignments are due the following week at the beginning of class.

Participation (25%): positive and active contribution to class discussions, attendance, and preparedness for class.


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