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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: December 2009



A leading theme in this book has been the significance of the historic and continuing treatment of indigenous peoples for the moral legitimacy of international society. It was argued that if the moral legitimacy of states that constitute international society can be questioned then so also should that of international society, which has, as one of its purposes, the survival of those states. In order to coexist, the states that comprise international society articulate and agree to rules and norms for the conduct of their mutual relations. Increasingly they also agree to rules and norms, such as those expressed in the international human rights regime, which set standards for the internal conduct of states. The moral legitimacy of international society with regard to indigenous peoples is a question that could be substantially settled were it to adopt norms and rules that set standards for the conduct of states with indigenous populations. This could be achieved especially if the rules and norms adopted were ones that helped to fully establish indigenous peoples as subjects of constitutional and international law.

The inquiry in this book has led me to adopt the position that indigenous peoples should be recognised, by states and international society alike, as ‘peoples’ with the right to self-determination, both within constitutional law and international or emerging global law. There are several interconnected reasons for reaching this conclusion. First, the subjugation and domination of indigenous peoples by European settlers resulted in the destruction of cultures and indigenous identities.

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