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Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2018
Authors Stuart Kirsch
Author's information

Stuart Kirsch
Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan.

    This paper examines three Inter-American Court (IACtHR) cases on behalf of the Enxet-Sur and Sanapana claims for communal territory in Paraguay. I argue that while the adjudication of the cases was successful, the aftereffects of adjudication have produced new legal geographies that threaten to undermine the advances made by adjudication. Structured in five parts, the paper begins with an overview of the opportunities and challenges to Indigenous rights in Paraguay followed by a detailed discussion of the adjudication of the Yakye Axa, Sawhoyamaxa, and Xákmok Kásek cases. Next, I draw from extensive ethnographic research investigating these cases in Paraguay to consider how implementation actually takes place and with what effects on the three claimant communities. The paper encourages a discussion between geographers and legal scholars, suggesting that adjudication only leads to greater social justice if it is coupled with effective and meaningful implementation.


Joel E. Correia Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona.

Kristin Henrard Ph.D.
Kristin Henrard is professor minorities and fundamental rights in the department of International and EU law of the Erasmus School of Law in the Netherlands.

Jeremie Gilbert
Jeremie Gilbert is professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Roehampton in the UK.

    The judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Kaliña and Lokono Peoples v. Suriname is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Particularly important is the Court’s repeated citation and incorporation of various provisions of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into its interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights. This aids in greater understanding of the normative value of the Declaration’s provisions, particularly when coupled with the dramatic increase in affirmations of that instrument by UN treaty bodies, Special Procedures and others. The Court’s analysis also adds detail and further content to the bare architecture of the Declaration’s general principles and further contributes to the crystallisation of the discrete, although still evolving, body of law upholding indigenous peoples’ rights. Uptake of the Court’s jurisprudence by domestic tribunals further contributes to this state of dynamic interplay between sources and different fields of law.


Fergus MacKay JD
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