Engaged Scholarship in the Asia Pacific

Panel 8: Indigenous Rights and Heritage Laws

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was ratified in 2007. It was a product of a long and slow process that started in 1982 with the establishment of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations. A draft declaration was submitted in 1994, which became the basis for several state parties establishing statutes on the rights of Indigenous populations. In the Asia Pacific, countries that have a long history of colonialism adopted measures to provide some form of redress to the injustices received by Indigenous groups. These statutes were based on the 1994 draft declaration, which predated the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as local regulations. In this panel, we discuss various issues that Indigenous groups have experienced since the ratification of Indigenous Peoples rights laws in different countries. We provide examples from Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, and Cambodia. The panel discusses how these laws have empowered Indigenous groups and how the lessons from the last 20 years could help strengthen these statutes.

Panelists: Teddy Baguilat (Indigenous Conserved Communities Areas); Awi Mona (National Dong Hwa University); Claire Charters (University of Auckland); Kathleen Tantuico (Nayong Pilipino Research Institute)

Moderator: Guy Charlton (University of New England, Australia)



Panelists and Moderators

Teodoro “Teddy” B. Baguilat, Jr. is a journalist, development worker and politician. He served as mayor, provincial governor and congressman of Ifugao. He was president of the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo) during which a number of relevant programs and projects on indigenous knowledge management and eco-tourism were succesfully implemented. He is the Interim Executive Director of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Vice President and Chair of Organizing and Membership Commission of the Liberal Party, and President of Global Indigenous and Local Communities and Conserved Areas (ICCA), a confederation of indigenous groups all over the world.

Dr. Awi Mona (Chih-Wei Tsai) is the first indigenous person in Taiwan to obtain a PhD in law. His research is primarily in the areas of indigenous law, Aboriginal title law, and cultural and education law. Over the past decade, since his return from Seattle, he has continually collaborated on indigenous rights movements with the local communities in Taiwan and has provided legal and policy advice on many indigenous laws and related problems. Awi is a member of the Seediq Nation.

Awi is currently the chairman of Legal Center of Indigenous Peoples, Legal Aid Foundation, Taiwan.

Claire Charters is from Ngati Whakaue, Tuwharetoa, Nga Puhi and Tainui.

Claire’s primary area of research is in Indigenous peoples’ rights in international and constitutional law, often with a comparative focus. Claire is working on articles on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the relationship between tikanga Māori and the state legal system, tensions between human rights and Indigenous peoples’ rights and on the legitimacy of Indigenous peoples’ rights under international law, which will be published as a book by Cambridge University Press.  Claire is also working on a number of collaborative research projects including on Indigenous peoples’ self-determination and the philosophical foundations of Indigenous law.  She is a member of the International Law Association’s Committee on Indigenous peoples’ rights.

Claire is currently a co-director of the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law. Claire was awarded a Royal Society Rutherford Discovery Fellowship in 2017.

Claire has typically combined her academic research and teaching with advocacy for the rights of Indigenous peoples at the domestic and international levels and is currently a trustee on the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples. In 2016 – 2017 Claire was appointed by the President of the United Nations General Assembly to advise him on enhancing Indigenous peoples’ participation in the United Nations. From 2010-2013 Claire worked for the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section, focusing on the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Kathleen Tantuico is a lawyer whose interests and expertise focus on Philippine heritage laws. She received her law degree from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Kathleen also holds a diploma in Archaeology from the Archaeological Studies Program, University of the Philippines. She’s a trained field archaeologist who combines her knowledge of the discipline with heritage statutes domestically and internationally. This past July, she published the academic article “The 2020 Re-Excavation of Callao Cave, Northeastern Luzon, the Philippines” in the SPAFA Journal. Kathleen is currently a project assistant at Nayong Pilipino Research Institute and a member of the National Committee on Monument and Sites under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. She is also a consultant for the Republic of the Philippines Congress, House of Representatives at the Office of Honorable Representative Peter Durano-Calderon, 7th District, Cebu City.

Guy C. Charlton has a broad range of legal experience. He is currently an Associate Professor in Law at the University of New England located in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia where he assisted in the establishment of the UNE First People First Peoples Rights and Law Centre. He has lectured law in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan and published law articles in 5 different jurisdictions. He was awarded his PhD thesis at the University of Auckland Faculty of Law for a
thesis entitled “Constitutional Conflicts and Aboriginal Rights: Hunting, Fishing, Gathering Rights in Canada, New Zealand and the United States.” This thesis argues that the present approach courts have taken toward the determination of the source, content and scope of usufructuary rights has been affected by historical and contemporary disputes concerning the nature and understanding of sovereignty, the nature and level of governmental authority and different philosophical approaches to political organization and individual rights. Guy has his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin and an MA in International Relations from the University of Toronto.