IPLP is engaged in advocacy and technical assistance projects involving indigenous peoples in various parts of the world. Here is a sampling of these projects.
Maya Communities of Southern Belize
Professor James Anaya coordinates the work of a team of lawyers and researchers to assist the Maya communities of southern Belize to secure and effectively exercise their rights over their traditional lands and natural resources. The advocacy efforts led by the IPLP Program have resulted in precedent-setting decisions by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and by the Supreme Court of Belize affirming Maya land rights on the basis of traditional tenure. More information and resources about this case...
Associate Clinical Professor James Hopkins, with the assistance of IPLP students, is representing the Traditional Authorities of the Rio Yaqui Pueblos, the governing body for all eight Rio Yaqui Pueblos in the Rio Yaqui Valley, Sonora, Mexico on a Petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Right. Filed in January 2011, the Traditional Authorities are requesting precautionary measures in the face of urgent, immediate, and irreparable harms to the Rio Yaqui people, their lands, resources and access to surface water rights on the Rio Yaqui caused by Mexico's continued agri-chemical practices and the alleged resulting Yaqui infant deaths that are in violation of the Rio Yaqui peoples' fundamental right to life as well as Mexico's support for massive resource development projects that includes the diversion of the Rio Yaqui to the City of Hermosillio, all of which will deny the future existence of the Rio Yaqui people in the Rio Yaqui Valley.
Border Action Network
IPLP represents the Border Action Network, a non-government organization whose work involves protecting the human rights of persons affected by border and immigration policies, in a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The organization is trying to stop violent attacks by vigilantes against immigrants along the Arizona/Mexico border area. Virtually all of these immigrants are from Mexico and other Latin American countries, and many of them indigenous. The petition before the Inter-American Commission seeks redress for human rights violations caused by the United States' lack of protection and legal remedies for immigrant victims of violence and intimidation by these vigilante groups. More information and resources about this case...
Will-writing project with the Allottees Association of the San Xavier District of the Tohono O'Odham Nation
Mary Guss, on behalf of IPLP, and Claudia Nelson, of NPTAO, are partnering on a will-writing project with the Allottees Association of the San Xavier District of the Tohono O'odham Nation. The Office of the Special Trustee is also involved and provides informational assistance as well as occasional office space. The project began in June of 2012. Twice a month Guss and Nelson travel to the Allottees office or to Sells to meet with individuals who need assistance in the preparation of their wills. The following month the Allottee returns to sign his or her will. An Indian Will Writing clinic has grown directly from this partnership, and law students are now also involved in meeting with clients and drafting their wills and related estate documents.
Support Project for the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples
IPLP staff, students and consultants supported the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a position held by Professor James Anaya from 2008 to 2014. In collaboration with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the IPLP Support Project assisted with all aspects of the Special Rapporteur's work to promote the human rights of indigenous peoples worldwide and address problem situations, in accordance with his mandate from the UN Human Rights Council. More information and resources about this project...
Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group
Professor Robert A. Williams, Jr., with the assistance of IPLP students and staff, represented the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group (which consists of six First Nations in British Columbia, Canada) on a Petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Right. The Petition was filed in May 2007 and includes a request for precautionary measures to avoid immediate and irreparable harm to Hul'qumi'num traditional lands and resources caused by the Canadian government's ongoing violation of the Hul'qumi'num peoples' rights to property, culture and equality of the law, as protected by the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. The Commission agreed to hear the merits of the petition. More information and resources about this case...
The IPLP program worked with the Indian Law Resource Center and the Western Shoshone Defense Project to assist the Dann traditional family and other Western Shoshone groups to defend their land rights in precedent-setting proceedings before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. More information and resources about this case...
The Awas Tingni decision by the Inter American Court of Human Rights was the first occasion on which an international tribunal with legally binding authority found a government in violation of the collective land rights of an indigenous people. Assisted by IPLP students and staff, Professor James Anaya was the lead counsel for the Awas Tingni community in the proceedings that led to the landmark judgment by the Inter-American court. IPLP also assisted the community in the complex process of implementing the judgment, eventually to see the Government of Nicaragua deliver title to the community in December 2008. More information and resources about this case...
Baka "Pygmy" of the Congo
The IPLP Program was asked by the Rainforest Foundation UK to develop a report concerning the human rights of indigenous peoples in Africa. In 2006 IPLP completed the project and submitted a report entitled, "The Rights of the Pygmy People in the Republic of Congo." The report was instrumental to the adoption of a general law to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in Congo, the first law of its kind in the African continent.
YATAMA, the main indigenous political party in Nicaragua, sought to enable the full exercise of the right to political participation by the indigenous peoples of the country's Atlantic Coast region. IPLP assisted in submitting an Amicus Curiae brief to the Inter American Court of Human Rights in support of YATAMA's petition.
Raposa Serra do Sol
IPLP assisted the indigenous peoples of Raposa Serra do Sol in Brazil with their petitions to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights and and UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The indigenous peoples of Raposa Serra do Sol sought legal recognition of their rights over their traditional lands and protection from threats and violence experienced at the hands of non-indigenous farmers.
Inuit Circumpolar Conference
Professor James Anaya, assisted by IPLP students, worked with the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Earth Justice and the Center for International Environmental law to submit a petition to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the Inuit people of the Arctic regions, seeking relief from violations of their human rights experienced as a result of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the United States.