Overview

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Philosophy and Approach

The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Program began with the belief that a major university with a strong and prestigious tradition in the field of human rights-such as Columbia University-has an important role to play both in academia and beyond in promoting awareness and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples’ issues and rights.

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FIMI 2016
Indigenous women leaders from around the world attend a seminar at Columbia University.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program has a strong international focus and is committed to promoting inter-culturality, i.e. dialogue among cultures on the basis of equality. This requires two core elements in terms of approach:

  1. Indigenous Peoples should not be relegated to the past, as lost history, or as art that belongs only in and to museums. Indigenous issues should also be taught to demonstrate the continuing existence, importance, and contributions of Indigenous Peoples, including through their own traditional knowledge and governance systems.
  2. There should be cross-fertilization of conventional academic thought via collaboration with Indigenous Peoples themselves, contributing their knowledge and perspectives. This means facilitating access of indigenous scholars, experts and practitioners to our University and also creating opportunities for Columbia’s community of students and teachers to spend time in academic institutions and with organizations in indigenous parts of the world. There cannot be a meaningful Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program at Columbia without the voices of Indigenous Peoples themselves being heard.

Goals of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program seeks to develop human rights capacity, particularly regarding Indigenous Peoples’ rights of the following groups:

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Summer Program 2016
Elsa Stamatopoulou leads a summer course.
  • The student body at Columbia University, through the integration of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the human rights curricula of the University;
  • Indigenous human rights advocates through their participation in ISHR’s Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) and its Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability Program (AHDA), as well as through other initiatives at Columbia University.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program promotes the exchange among academics and experts, both indigenous and non-indigenous, through the organization of international conferences and workshops on cutting edge indigenous issues that explore current and ongoing challenges pertaining to Indigenous Peoples’ rights and well-being. The program collaborates with relevant international organizations, academic institutions and indigenous and other civil society organizations to encourage interdisciplinary approaches to current issues in Indigenous Peoples’ studies.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program promotes multidisciplinary research, much of which has broad public policy implications. This research is inspired by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and the challenges in its implementation, as well as the broad lines of study identified by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, among others.

Publications on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

Following its philosophy and approach, the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights promotes research and exchanges among academics and experts, both indigenous and non-indigenous, through the organization of international conferences and workshops on cutting edge indigenous issues that explore current and ongoing challenges pertaining to Indigenous Peoples’ rights and well-being. The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program promotes multidisciplinary research, much of which has broad public policy implications. This research is inspired by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and the challenges in its implementation, as well as the broad lines of study identified by, among others, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the UN Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (EMRIP). The Institute is part of the Academic Friends of the EMRIP.

The program collaborates with relevant international organizations, academic institutions and indigenous and other civil society organizations to encourage interdisciplinary approaches to current issues in Indigenous Peoples’ studies. These efforts have resulted in the publication of collections of essays on topics of international symposia and seminars organized at Columbia by the Institute in collaboration with other institutions. The essays result from those collaborative efforts and are informed by the discussions at the above-mentioned international symposia and seminars, abide by high standards of academic excellence, are of immediate policy relevance at global level and are also interdisciplinary. The books have international outreach and readership.

Submissions are first submitted to a round of editorial review and generally a round of external peer review before final acceptance.

The first edited collection of essays is entitled Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice, Including Truth and Reconciliation Processes (Wilton Littlechild and Elsa Stamatopoulou eds., 2014).

The second edited collection of essays is entitled Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace (Elsa Stamatopoulou ed., 2017). 

The books are publications of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights. The edited volumes are also placed on Columbia’s Academic Commons for broader accessibility.