Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Unequal Protection

Published: January 8, 2009, Author: JayTaber

Equal protection under the law is generally considered to fall under the realm of civil rights: protection might vary greatly from country to country, but within each state everybody gets the same deal. Human rights, however, are by definition universal.

Where these two legal precepts intersect is often where one class of people is deprived by another of the ability to maintain control of its intellectual, territorial, or economic properties as a matter of public policy. The states of Canada, Australia, Indonesia, and Israel are good examples of this.

Unequal protection, in almost every circumstance, is the result of colonial control and the derivative power to exploit when colonies become states. A lot of the world fits this description.

Law, unfortunately, protects those with more property more vigorously than those with less; those who have the gold make the rules. And since most wealth was generated initially by theft, it is stolen properties that get the most protection.

So when it is pointed out by First Nations in places like Canada, that most of the territory now controlled by the federal government is not legally theirs to dispose of (and all the official documents of that government support the indigenous claim), what we have is a violation of both civil rights under national law, and human rights under international law. There is simply no other way to put it.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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