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Reinforcing Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Health in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Panacea for Sustainable Human Rights Protection

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The rights of indigenous peoples have become an important issue of international law and policy over the past three decades as a result of movements led by indigenous peoples, civil society, international mechanisms and states at the domestic, regional and international levels. Indigenous peoples are widely recognized as being among the world’s most vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized peoples. In order to identify, recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of who the indigenous people are. Moreover, the definition that is derived cannot be static, but must change with the times and from place to place as well as adapt to the changing circumstances and environments. This paper analyses the statutory definitions of indigenous peoples and their rights as provided under the United Nations legal framework and other regional frameworks. Furthermore, it examines the unique perspectives on health held by indigenous peoples as well as their vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic. The question that was posed in this paper, however, was whether the right to health extends to indigenous peoples, thereby making it binding on a far greater number of actors. And what are the issues that pertain to the human rights of indigenous peoples. Nevertheless, this paper noted that the United Nations Human Rights System, as well as its mechanisms, laws and policies have been at the heart of these developments. This paper takes an analytical and qualitative approach to its research and builds its argument on existing literature, which is achieved through a synthesis of ideas. The paper concludes that the rights of indigenous peoples are increasingly being formally incorporated into the domestic legal systems of various countries.

About the Authors

U. Nnawulezi
Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike

Lecturer, Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, Faculty of Law

H. Nwaechefu
Redeemer’s University

Lecturer, Faculty of Law


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For citations:

Nnawulezi U., Nwaechefu H. Reinforcing Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Health in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Panacea for Sustainable Human Rights Protection. BRICS Law Journal. 2022;9(4):108-133.

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ISSN 2409-9058 (Print)
ISSN 2412-2343 (Online)