Definitions and Justifications: Minority and Indigenous Rights in a Central/East European Context

  • Citation: Aukerman, Miriam J. “Definitions and Justifications: Minority and Indigenous Rights in a Central/East European Context.” Human Rights Quarterly 22, no. 4 (2000): 1011–50.
    • Topics:
    • Movements for Inclusion
    • Keywords:
    • Eastern Europe
    • Indigenous people
    • Central/East Europe
    • definitions
    • self-determination

Over the last decade, the concept of “indigenous people” has acquired considerable normative power in international practice. In 1982 the United Nations established a Working Group on Indigenous Populations, which in 1993 adopted a remarkably ambitious Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Similarly, in 1989 the International Labour Organization (ILO) developed Convention 169 which rejected the ILO’s earlier assimilationist approach towards indigenous peoples in favor of respect and support. Meanwhile, the World Bank’s implementation of a 1991 Operational Directive, which imposes special requirements on certain World Bank projects affecting indigenous peoples, has had a significant impact on development and lending practices. Indigenous peoples have been actively involved in these standard-setting activities, and have established themselves as a significant presence on the international stage. However, there is no general agreement on the definition of “indigenous people”–that is on who should benefit from the rights framework which is being established–nor is there an agreement on a process by which such a definition could be developed.

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