|Ocean governance: Sustainable development of the Seas (UNU, 1994, 369 pages)|
|Part I: The existing framework for ocean governance|
|The role of indigenous peoples in ocean governance|
Coalitions of indigenous people have been working industriously to seek international recognition of their claims. The two principal forums for these discussions have been
1. the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which sponsored the 1989 Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, and
2. the Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the UN Human Rights Commission's Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.
The 1989 ILO Convention is written in somewhat general terms, because it is designed for all indigenous peoples in all their different situations, but it has some provisions that make it clear that these peoples have real rights to resources that must be respected. The Convention uses the term "land" to cover "the total environment of the areas which the peoples concerned occupy or otherwise use." (Article 13(2).) Article 14(1) states that:
The rights of ownership and possession of the
peoples concerned over the lands which they traditionally occupy shall be
recognised. In addition, measures shall be taken in appropriate cases to
safeguard the right of the peoples concerned to use lands not exclusively
occupied by them, but to which they have traditionally had access for their
subsistence and traditional activities....
Article 7(1) is also relevant:
The peoples concerned shall have the right to
decide their own priorities for the process of development as it affects their
lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual well-being and the lands they occupy
or otherwise use, and to exercise control, to the extent possible, over their
own economic, social and cultural development. In addition, they shall
participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and
programmes for national and regional development which may affect them
At the meetings of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, efforts have been underway for the past several years to draft a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which would be adopted by the UN General Assembly. (ECOSOC 1990) The 1989 draft's listing of rights contained several provisions that are related to the claims to ocean resources of indigenous peoples:
14 The right to special measures to ensure their ownership and control over surface and substance of resources pertaining to the territories they have traditionally occupied or otherwise used including flora and fauna, waters and ice sea.
15 The right to reclaim land and surface resources or where this is not possible, to seek just and fair compensation for the same, when the property has been taken away from them without consent, in particular, if such deprival has been based on theories such as those related to discovery, terra nullius, waste lands or idle lands....