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Political Science Diplomacy

Indigenous Diplomacy and the Rights of Peoples

Achieving UN Recognition

by (author) James (Sa'ke'j) Henderson

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2008
Diplomacy, Human Rights, International
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2008
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Despite centuries of sustained attacks against their collective existence, Indigenous peoples represent over 5,000 languages and cultures in more than 70 nations on six continents. Most have also retained social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics distinct from other segments of national populations, yet recognition of their humanity and rights has been a struggle to achieve. Based on personal experience, James (Sa’ke’j) Youngblood Henderson documents the generation-long struggle that led to the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations General Assembly. Henderson puts the Declaration and the struggles of Indigenous peoples in a wider context, outlining the rise of international law and how it was shaped by European ideas, the rise of the UN, and post-WWII agreements focusing on human rights.

About the author

Contributor Notes

James (Sa'ke'j) Youngblood Henderson is an internationally and national recognized authority in Indigenous knowledge, heritage, and jurisprudence, constitutional rights, and human rights. He is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. He is the research director of the Native Law Centre of Canada and teaches Aboriginal law at the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan. He is the author of numerous books, including Mi’kmaq Concordat; Aboriginal Tenure in the Constitution of Canada; First Nation Jurisprudences and Aboriginal Rights; Treaty Rights in the Constitution of Canada, and Protecting Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage and has contributed to many other books and journals. He was one of the strategists that created Indigenous diplomacy, working through the Four Direction Council, an NGO, in the UN system and part of the drafting team of many of the existing documents, especially, ILO Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (1991), Guidelines and Principles for the Protection of Indigenous Heritage (1994-2001), and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). He has been an Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (2003-1997) and the UNESCO Convention of Cultural Diversity. Since 2000, he has been a member of the Canadian Commission to UNESCO. His achievements in international and national law have been recognized by being awarded  Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel (2005), the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Law and Justice (2006), and a Honourary Doctorate of Laws, Carlton University (2007).