chapter  2
20 Pages

Theoretical Framing

This book sets out to examine the emergence and achievements of the global indigenous movement and its role in pressing the UN to take the human rights of indigenous peoples seriously: how does a movement of resource poor and conventionally powerless peoples organize as a global movement, gain extensive DQGXQSUHFHGHQWHGDFFHVVWRWKH81DQGXVHWKDWDFFHVVWRLQÀXHQFHWKHUHVKDSLQJ of international human rights law and the establishment of mechanisms and spaces geared towards the protection of indigenous rights? How are indigenous peoples’ rights and claims being pressed and defended? What can we attribute to the strategies and approach of indigenous advocates? Why do states and the international system respond? What has been the impact of the movement, including at the local, community level? In responding to this task it traverses several literatures in the social sciences, from which it draws diverse analytical devices and perspectives able to cast light on our concerns. This chapter engages in the prior undertaking of elaborating those literatures, which relate to the themes of human rights, social movements, and the role of norms and identities in international relations. First, in order to locate the book in the context of legal and VRFLDOVFLHQWL¿FZRUNRQKXPDQULJKWVLWRIIHUVXSDFRQFHSWXDOL]DWLRQRIKXPDQ rights, which are understood in this book not as natural entitlements implied in our humanity, universal and inalienable, but as socially constructed products of VWUXJJOHEHWZHHQDVVRUWHGVRFLDODQGSROLWLFDODFWRUVZLWKGLYHUVHDQGFRQÀLFWLQJ interests and means of asserting power. Second, it elaborates on the array of orienting concepts for explaining the timing and impact of social movements, and points to the limits of existing social movement theory for understanding something of the character of indigenous protest and advocacy, as well as the relationship of the global indigenous movement with the UN institution. Third, it considers the way in which norms – broadly understood as sets of values and SULQFLSOHVWKDWHQWHULQWRDSROLWLFDODFWRU¶VGH¿QLWLRQRILWVLGHQWLW\DQGLQWHUHVWV – empower social movements and other non-state actors in world politics, a by now well-established tenet of international relations theory in the realm of transnational collective action that nevertheless carries important explanatory leverage in this particular case.