Engaged Scholarship in the Asia Pacific

Natural Resource Policy, Culture and Law

This symposium will examine issues involving the land and water governance and the relationships among minority and Indigenous groups, their traditional lands, natural resource management and the larger society. As Indigenous, minority and cultural rights have become increasing important as an element of human rights, historical justice and reconciliation, the governance and forms of Indigenous lands tenure in various states around the Asia Pacific have become a particularly salient issue. International instruments such as Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 27 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have extended the right of culture to include rights to land. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes this right explicit and the state parties to the Declaration have committed themselves to give legal recognition and protection to Indigenous lands and territories as well as associated resources.

The task of legal recognition and governance of Indigenous/minority interests in land is complicated by the plural legal, cultural and social environment where state administration of natural resources and land use policies, as well as numerous local cultural elements and complicated forms of local forms of legal possession, occupancy and use rights interact. New Zealand, for example had six different forms of trust to manage Maori land besides various rights established by Foreshore and Sea legislation and treaty settlements. These forms of tenure and use rights are an additional category of legal rights to land that exist alongside other forms of tenure and use rights with a state.

Land governance implicates fundamental cultural, human rights, constitutional values because it concerns the relationship of Indigenous/minority entities and individuals to their own traditions as well as their relationship to public authority and constitutional authority of the larger state. In addition, the forms of tenure and use rights involve a high level of specificity. The particular aspects of the historic occupation and use of lands and water and the unique characteristics of the Indigenous/minority interaction with the dominant society are important components of various tenure and use systems.  Within this fact specific inquiry, generalization is often difficult.

This webinar series is co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies; UCLA Asia Pacific Center; University of New England (Australia) First Peoples First Peoples Rights and Law Centre (FPRLC); and, Science and Technology Innovation Center for Taiwan-Philippines Indigenous Knowledge, Local Knowledge, and Sustainable Studies (CTPILS), National Chengchi University, Taiwan.

Session Topics

Traditional Knowledge, Law and Land Use Management
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 at 6PM
(Los Angeles); Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 10AM (Taipei); 1PM (Sydney) 

This session involves a discussion of traditional knowledge and traditional laws affecting the use of Indigenous lands and waters. Both international instruments and national laws have identified the importance of traditional knowledges, law and culture as a basis for land and water management. At the same time, these knowledges and law interact with state law and land and water management policies.  This session will explore use of traditional knowledges and law and how it has been used to address particular shortcomings and enhance the effectiveness in state management and policy and how it might be implemented more effectively by Indigenous peoples in their land and water management schemes.  

Moderator: Professor Daya Dakasi (Da-Wei Kuan) (National Cheng-Chi University)

Acknowledgement of Country: UNE PVC Indigenous Joe Frazer

Marcelle Burns (UNE) & Shawn Hooper (University of New England Land and Sea Hub): “Cultural burning and resource management”

Marise Stuart, Te Ao Mauri Ora Ltd, Fulbright Scholar; Ngārimu VC & 28th Māori Battalion Scholar; Stryker Fellow Harvard Medical School

Brian McInnis (University of Wisconsin): “Traditional law and the Georgian Bay Biosphere”



Resource Management Across Traditional Lands and Waters 
Wednesday, March 2, 2022 at 6PM (Los Angeles); Thursday, March 3, 2022 at 1PM (Sydney), 10AM (Taipei) 

There are numerous varied examples of management regimes across Indigenous lands across the world. Many of these management regimes often have little input or concern for Indigenous interests and sensibilities. Nevertheless, as set for in art. 26(2) the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use….”. This session explores some ways Indigenous groups have been able to exercise their control and management rights over their natural resources and waters with state policy makers or within indigenous management structures. In some instances, Indigenous peoples have exclusive or primary authority over their territories. More often, however they must share management with state actors. These arrangements are particularly complicated where Indigenous peoples use rights extend over a broad area and must be balanced against non-Indigenous use rights or property interests. This session critically discusses various approaches different groups and state actors have taken to solve natural resource management issues.

Moderator: Professor Mitsuhiko Takahashi (Toyama University)

Ann McCammon-Soltis (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission): “Treaty Guaranteed Rights in the Upper Great Lakes: Tribal Governance and Intergovernmental Relationships”

Morihiro Ichikawa, Tomamu Law Office, “Comments from the perspective of the Japan’s Ainu salmon case.”

Tiffany Chisholm Gardner (University of Western Australia): “Recognising the Strengths in First Law: Co-governance as a Strategy for Water Decolonisation”




Tenure and Use Rights Across Traditional Lands and Waters
Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at 6PM (Los Angeles); Thursday, March 10, 2022 at 1PM (Sydney), 10AM (Taipei) 

This session discusses different forms and proposed forms of tenure and use rights that have been used by states and Indigenous peoples. It discusses various legal, policy and political difficulties Indigenous groups and state policy makers have encountered in establishing these tenures and use rights. In addition to issues involving traditional lands, this session will also discuss issues involving interests in freshwater, the foreshore and marine areas. In many states these submerged and tidal flood areas are under a separate legal designation. This has led to additional obstacles to the exercise of those customary rights in the river and lakes, the foreshore and seabed. This session discusses the Indigenous use rights, management and property interests in the freshwater, the foreshore and in marine areas.

Moderator: Professor Awi Mona (Chih-Wei Tsai) (National Dong Hwa University)

Valmaine Toki (University of Waikato): “Customary tools to achieve sustainability – rahui and ahumoana a case study”

Bruce McIvor (First Peoples Law Centre): “Aboriginal title in Canada and the foreshore”

Frank Bibeau (tribal attorney for Honor the Earth and the White Earth Band of Ojibwe): “The Rights of Nature and the protection of treaty rights”

Bradley Cardozo (UCLA): “Climate Justice, Indigenous Politics, and “Coal-igarchy”: The Threat of Coal Power Expansion into the Ancestral Domain of the Aeta Magbukun People of Bataan Province, Philippines”



Economic Commercialization of Traditional Resources and Land 
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at 6PM (Los Angeles); Thursday, March 17, 2022 at 1PM (Sydney), 10AM (Taipei) 

The recognition of Indigenous rights to use land, implicates the right to development and the commercial use of natural resources for various Indigenous groups. In many instances, state policy makers have recognised the use of various resources across traditional lands only for subsistence and personal uses. In other circumstances, the recognised Indigenous right carries with it the right of commercial exploitation of the resource. This session discusses the issue of the commercial exploitation and use of natural resources in Indigenous groups’ traditional territories. It focuses on the tension between a “traditional” understanding of use held by many people in the dominant society as well as within Indigenous groups with a more “commercial understanding” of harvest and use rights and how this conflict impacts both the recognition of Indigenous land and use rights and their subsequent exploitation. 

Moderator: Associate Professor Guy Charlton (University of New England)

Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei (Institute of Wildlife Conservation National Pingtung University of Science and Technology): “Toward the Self-Governance of Indigenous Hunting in Taiwan”

Benjamin Murray (Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (Australia): “Legal form and the commercial use of aboriginal lands in Australia”

Sabiha Yeasmin Rosy (University of Dhaka): “Exploring the commercialization of resources in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh: an economy of uneven tourism development”

Emma Garlett (University of Western Australia): “The Right Approach to Water Management: The Need For A Traditional Owner Merits Appeal Against Water Licensing Decisions In Western Australia”