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The intersection between indigenous rights and international economic agreements is paradigmatic of the ways in which globalization accommodates issues of social and economic justice. This intersection provides insight into the fate of the marginalized communities in a system that privileges certain values and goals often incompatible with some indigenous values and goals. The prior chapters make evident that, to address social and economic justice, international economic agreements can start by addressing indigenous interests in a systemic and more encompassing way and lead the way to frameworks for better social and economic inclusion. This is the key litmus test for the very legitimacy of international economic law after crises derived from a nationalistic turn and exacerbated by a global pandemic. This chapter offers some basic recommendations.
This chapter provides the assessment of the intersection – that between international economic law and indigenous rights – coined in this book as international indigenous economic law. The author asserts that there is an important place for indigenous rights within the field of international economic law. Indeed, an international indigenous economic law, one that focuses on the vulnerable and marginalized, can provide a limited yet important pathway for improving the unequal distribution of the benefits of globalization and for moving beyond the standard conversations among mainstream and classical economists and policymakers that the redistribution of wealth and power should be purely domestic policy responses. This claim has implication for international economic law and indigenous rights scholars alike.
The global ascendancy of neoliberal economics has deepened inequalities between and within nations and largely undermined efforts toward sustainable development. Based on a belief that the market should be the organizing principle for social, political and economic decisions, policymakers in many countries promoted privatization of state activities and an increased role for the free market, flexibility in labor markets and trade and investment liberalization. The benefits of these policies frequently fail to reach the indigenous peoples of the world, who acutely feel their costs, such as environmental degradation, cultural dispossessions and loss of traditional lands and territories. As vulnerable and often marginalized segments of the world’s population, indigenous peoples are at a heightened risk of experiencing the negative consequences of globalization. Understanding this reality could provide pathways for effective interventions to alleviate, overcome or, at the very least, minimize such effects.
The intersection between indigenous rights and international economic law serves as an instructive lens of the complex interactions between human and economic-focused areas of international law. Specifically, it uncovers how two fields with distinct goals, rules and structures are implicated in the way globalization both affects and tries to protect marginalized communities. Since both fields can also complement each other to improve the situation of almost one billion marginalized indigenous peoples, international economic law can incorporate the struggle for social inclusion espoused by human rights law as it relates to indigenous peoples, as argued in Chapter 6. This final chapter briefly provides first, a reflection on how to rethink the failure of globalization with indigenous peoples in mind. It further outlines the normative underpinnings of an inclusive globalization that can provide more hope for those marginalized by the current structure created by international economic law.
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