Sheryl Lightfoot

Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics

Tier 2 - 2017-11-01
The University of British Columbia
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council


Research involves

Examining Indigenous rights movements and state responses to indigenous rights claims.

Research relevance

This research will lead to improved understanding of how increased rights for Indigenous Peoples will reshape issues such as decolonization, sovereignty and equality.

Indigenous Rights in a Shifting International Order

Passage of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 signalled an important shift in global indigenous politics and the declaration's Indigenous peoples’ rights. Since passage, Indigenous rights advocates and movements have become squarely focused on the implementation of indigenous rights.

Provides international recognition of the inherent human rights of Indigenous Peoples, both as Individuals and as collectives, with indigenous self-determination serving as the core element. It also offers protections for state sovereignty, precluding Indigenous peoples’ secession or state-making efforts. The end result of this internal tension is that implementation of Indigenous rights involves a complex and ongoing set of politics in which the competing claims of Indigenous Peoples and states, particularly in the realm of self-determination, must be navigated.

Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, is investigating how Indigenous political actors are navigating the international system and are negotiating rights claims with individual states.

She aims to answer such questions as: What are the implications of global Indigenous rights for Indigenous Peoples, states and the international system? What does implementation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights mean in theory and in practice? How are these rights claims being negotiated?

Lightfoot’s research will help clarify how global Indigenous politics are shifting elements of the international order and what impacts this shift will have on the politics of indigenous-state relationships.