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CFP: Land and Water Governance and Minority Peoples in the Asia Pacific

CFP: Land and Water Governance and Minority Peoples in the Asia Pacific

Call for Papers is open for Webinar Series: Natural Resource Policy, Culture and Law: Land and Water Governance and Minority Peoples in the Asia Pacific from February 24-March 17, 2022. Deadline: November 30, 2021

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 an increasing important of human rights discourse, historical justice and reconciliation, the governance and forms of Indigenous lands and sea tenures and uses 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 these possessory and use rights explicit. 

The task of legal recognition and governance of Indigenous/minority interests in land and waters is complicated by the plural legal, cultural and social environment. In this environment the state administration of natural resources and land use policies, as well as numerous local cultures 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. Australian Aboriginal legal possessory and use interests, which exist in a variety of legal forms, extend across inland water, the foreshore and land. These forms of tenure and use rights are an additional category of legal rights to land and waters that exist alongside other forms of tenure and use rights within the state.

Land and water governance implicate 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 waters, 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 symposium seeks to investigate the complexities of Indigenous land and water governance in various Asia-Pacific states. This governance, whether based on state law and regulation, customary law and/or a combination of the two systems blends traditional knowledges and western positivist approaches is a point of contestation among various levels of state jurisdiction and minority/indigenous groups. The symposium will attempt to formulate some generalised principles and or institutional innovations by which states and Indigenous/minority groups can together recognise and entrench various approaches to land governance and rights to land and waters with concern for the unique circumstances of Indigenous/minority-state interaction. Participants will be invited to discuss land governance comparatively or within a particular jurisdiction with the objective of publishing their presentation in an edited volume. 

This symposium builds of the 2020 Series 10-part Webinar Series: “Indigenous Peoples, Heritage and Landscape in the Asia Pacific” undertaken by the Science and Technology Innovation Center for Taiwan-Philippines Indigenous Knowledge, Local Knowledge, and Sustainable Studies (CTPILS), National Chengchi University, Taiwan; UCLA Department of Anthropology, USA; UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies; UCLA Asia Pacific Center; University of New England First Peoples First Peoples Rights and Law Centre (FPRLC), Australia; Auckland University of Technology Centre for Indigenous Rights and Law. We have added the University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan as a partner this year. The website for the symposium is Engaged Scholarship in the Asia Pacific – Community Engaged Research.

Please submit an abstract of your topic with your affiliation to Professor Guy Charlton (gcharlt3@une.edu.au) or Professor Stephen Acabado (acabado@ucla.edu) by November 30, 2021. Consideration with be given to Graduate Students in the area to have an opportunity to present and publish their research.  The papers will be considered for the edited volume on based on the symposium.


  1. Traditional knowledge, law and land use management
    Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 6PM (Los Angeles); Wednesday February 23, 2022 at 1PM (Sydney), 10AM (Taipei) 

    This session involves a discussion of traditional knowledge and traditional laws affect 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 shortcoming 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.   

  2. 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.    

  3. 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.

  4.  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 an 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 recognise of Indigenous land and use rights and their subsequent exploitation. 

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Published: Monday, October 25, 2021