Realising Indigenous Rights: Effective Implementation of Agreements

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Negotiated agreements now constitute a critical component of almost all encounters between Indigenous peoples and the extractive industry in Australia and Canada, and are rapidly becoming more important in the Global South. Negotiation of agreements constitute a significant challenge for Indigenous peoples given the inequalities in political and economic resources that typically exist between them and the large corporations that dominate the extractive industry. However, an equally important challenge involves ensuring that agreements are effectively implemented. If implementation fails, the potential benefits created by growing legal recognition of Indigenous rights will not be fully realised. Existing research shows that major problems of implementation have arisen with agreements in Australia and Canada. It is less clear what can be done to avoid implementation failure. In particular, there has been almost no research conducted with the active involvement of Indigenous parties to agreements and which focuses on explaining why implementation failure occurs, and what can be done during and after agreement negotiations to minimise it. This project proposes a collaboration between university researchers and Aboriginal organisations to address these questions, focusing on agreements that have been in place for different periods of time and which are currently being negotiated.