Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace

December 1, 2017



In the coming weeks leading into Winter Break, find some time to read CSER professor Elsa Stamatopoulou's new book from the Institute for the Study of Human Rights. This book is a contribution of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program to the Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The book is available on Columbia’s Academic Commons. Click here to access the full text.


A summary, from the Institute for the Study of Human Rights:


The questions addressed in the book include the following: What are the forms of violence specific to Indigenous peoples? Are there forms that do not express themselves in physical violence? Are there specific causes for conflicts affecting Indigenous peoples? What can we learn from case studies? Can existing norms and policies for dealing with conflict apply to Indigenous peoples? What is the international normative framework applicable to conflict affecting Indigenous peoples and its resolution? Has the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples had an impact on conflict resolution and peace solutions? Should Indigenous peoples-related conflicts be handled differently from other so-called “ethnic conflicts”? What gaps must be addressed in terms of national and international mechanisms for the prevention of atrocities and the promotion of peace in cases where Indigenous Peoples are involved? What impact does the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage have on Indigenous Peoples’ human rights? What is the human rights approach and response to the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples? How could existing mechanisms of conflict resolution, national and international, be improved in regards to Indigenous Peoples? What can be learned from efforts toward conflict resolution involving Indigenous Peoples, including peace agreements and a gender perspective, in different parts of the world? What are the opportunities we can seize to make progress in this area and what recommendations can we make to various parties?


The book has been conceptualized to address broad issues of conflict and peace pertaining to Indigenous Peoples and their human rights. While some of the chapters are geographically specific, they each address major questions that are relevant to many situations and are examples of broader interest. Inspired by Indigenous Peoples’ unwavering efforts and initiatives towards the resolution of conflicts, the book asks questions that underlie the global peace agenda, yet provide the Indigenous angle, in addition to highlighting topics that are particular to the situation of Indigenous Peoples: the human rights standards applicable in situations of conflict, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration); the issue of the responsibility to protect; violence against women; women’s contributions to peace; environmental violence; grassroots peace movements and their strategies; the negotiation and implementation of peace accords; structural violence; seeking conflict resolution through the courts; the potential and limits of shaming and sanctions; and a peace-mapping model for sustainable peace that includes Indigenous theories of peace. The title of the book contains the phrase “unreported struggles” to underline the invisibility that often coats Indigenous Peoples’ struggles in the context of conflicts, as part of deeply engrained structural violence and its long-term historic roots of dispossession, trivialization and marginalization imposed on Indigenous Peoples by the colonial paradigm.


The book contains a number of case studies with a geographical focus at the national level—Chile, Nicaragua, Colombia, Russia, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines—or at the regional level, namely Africa, in the Great Lakes region and East Africa.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University hopes that this book, edited by Elsa Stamatopoulou, will enrich the literature on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, conflict and peace and will inspire further research in this area.


Copies of the book are available from:

Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Columbia University
91 Claremont Ave. 7th Floor
New York, NY 10027

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CSER continues to be Columbia's main interdisciplinary space for the study of ethnicity and race and their implications for thinking about culture, power, hierarchy, social identities, and political communities. The Center also offers a wide range of public programming, including Artist at the Center, Indigenous Forum, and Latino Public Speaker Series and the Transnational Asian/American Speaker Series. CSER's most recent spaces include the Media and Idea Lab and Gallery at the Center, a space dedicated to curating artistic and thematic exhibits around the Center’s key areas of interest.

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