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8 Property

From: The American Convention on Human Rights: Essential Rights

Thomas M. Antkowiak, Alejandra Gonza

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 07 May 2021

Indigenous peoples — Minorities — Collective rights — Right to property

Among regional treaties, the Convention’s Article 21 provides a strong formulation of the right to property. The Court has elaborated a broad notion of property, including tangible and intangible property, as well as private and communal property. The Tribunal’s property case law has especially influenced international jurisprudence on indigenous rights. The Court’s 2001 ruling on an indigenous right to communal property was a first for an international human rights court. Throughout the Americas, States and private companies have extracted natural resources and developed commercial projects on lands belonging to indigenous peoples and Afro-Latin communities. In response, the Court has required that States comply with specific “safeguards”; however, the protections are easily evaded. To better defend vital ancestral lands and resources, we argue that the Court should adopt a robust right-to-life approach, rather than relying upon the more modest right to property in these cases.

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