Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Laws




Sara Seck


This thesis analyzes Asian understandings of the definition of indigenous peoples in international law. The rights of indigenous peoples have emerged strongly in the international domain, culminating in 2007 with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Yet, the question of definition and identity of indigenous peoples remains uncertain and indeterminate, at least from an Asian perspective. Traditionally indigenous peoples are understood to be those who were victims of European colonial settlements. It is the aim of this research to find out whether indigenous peoples exist in Asia by analyzing the approaches taken by select Asian states and non-state groups within these states who claim to be indigenous peoples. The thesis also examines whether there are any specific rights belonging to indigenous peoples which have attained the status of customary international law.