Indigenous Rights and Legal Pluralism

Complementary Information


As result of the activities of the course, students shall be competent to:

  • Understand the situations of cultural and legal pluralism in the region.
  • Differentiate the policies applied to indigenous peoples throughout the History of the Americas.
  • Analyze the current situation of indigenous peoples and issues faced in the globalization context and extraction of natural resources in their territories.
  • Know the corpus of the international law of indigenous peoples.
  • Identify the violated rights and actions to take for the defense of such rights in specific cases.
  • Have a direct approach to indigenous peoples, with respect and openness to intercultural learning.


The activities in this program shall be aimed at developing different types of skills being organized in three types of methodologies:

a. Lectures

Introduction to cultural and legal pluralism: This course provides tools for the understanding of cultural and legal pluralism situations that occur in the region by the co-existence of different peoples in one geo-political area, in particular, by the presence of native peoples.

Historical policies applied to indigenous peoples in the Americas: This course shall present an overview of the policies pursued by States to indigenous peoples throughout the history of the Americas, within the framework of actions of state taxation and indigenous resistance. The course reviews: a) the pre-Columbian era, b) policies of the Colonial era (16th-18th centuries), c) the era of the independent construction of nation states, excluding indigenous, and policies of liberal constitutionalism in the 19th century; d) the social constitutionalism and the integration of indigenous in the 20th century in Latin America and, e) recent changes in international law and pluralist constitutionalism, from multiculturalism to self-determination of indigenous peoples.

Globalization and contemporary issues of indigenous peoples: This course shall provide tools to contextualize conflicts and issues currently suffered by indigenous peoples within the context of globalization and the development of extractive activities or infrastructure projects in territories of such peoples. Since the Washington Consensus in 1989, the states of the region have initiated structural adjustment policies, including the contracting of the state apparatus, the reduction of social rights and the easing of rules to facilitate the presence of transnational corporations devoted to extractive activities, with counterproductive effects on the rights of indigenous peoples.

International law of indigenous peoples: This course seeks to develop capabilities in order to learn the management of the corpus of international law on the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular on the rights of self-determination, territory, consultation and prior, free and informed consent, customary law, etc. Likewise, this course shall provide knowledge of the mechanisms for the protection of indigenous rights and develop skills to learn the identification of violated rights and mechanisms for specific cases.

Case study: The case of the native community Tres Islas in Madre de Dios shall be studied and the judgment of the Constitutional Court in favor of the community, as well as the existing challenges for the enforcement of the judgment shall be discussed.

b. Workshops

The workshops shall enable the deepening of topics, discussions and working groups for the implementation of the theoretical approaches to specific cases, as well as the analysis and the exchange of ideas and experiences.

c. Field Work (Field Trips)

The field work shall consist of a trip to the Madre de Dios region to visit the native community Tres Islas, formed by the Shipibo and Ese´eja peoples. The visit shall make it possible to see directly the lifestyle of the community and the impacts of the gold mining activity in its territory besides the manner how the community fought to win the case before the Constitutional Court of Peru and the challenges to achieve the effectiveness of its rights to present.

The trip shall also allow students participate in some forums or public presentations on indigenous rights in the region.

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Brochure 2018

Lima and Madre de Dios, Peru (Amazon)

Session Dates

July 2nd – July 20th, 2018.

Time period:

3 weeks.

Number of hours:

120 hours.


3 credits

Language of Instruction:



Raquel Z. Yrigoyen Fajardo

Associated Instructors:

Raquel Z. Yrigoyen Fajardo, Zulma I. Villa Vílchez, Soraya K. Yrigoyen Fajardo and members of the Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad-IIDS (International Institute on Law and Society-IILS)


Carlos J. Elguera Alvarez