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Indigenous Voices: The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples presents the perspectives of various Indigenous peoples' representatives and experts from around the globe on the negotiations leading to, and content of, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The book is unique in a number of ways. First, it is written by the principal stakeholders in the Declaration – the Indigenous peoples' representatives who fought, in some cases for decades, for the recognition of the rights of their peoples at the international level. The degree of non-state actor influence on the substance of international law as occurred during the drafting of the Declaration was unprecedented. Indigenous peoples led the movement to establish explicit norms on the rights of Indigenous peoples at the United Nations and then influenced the content of those norms. From the mid-1980s, Indigenous peoples sat as equals to states at the negotiating table, proposing language and strategising how to best achieve their goals. The Declaration could not have been adopted by the General Assembly without Indigenous peoples' endorsement of the text.
Second, Indigenous peoples' input into the drafting of the Declaration forms part of the travaux préparatoires of the Declaration and, thus, will continue to influence the legal interpretation of their rights into the future, and shape the content of customary international law. Third, this book balances various states' interpretations of the Declaration, which, while set out in United Nations records, do not necessarily reflect the common Indigenous interpretations of the Declaration. In this way, the book also expresses Indigenous peoples' self-determination – it is also a vehicle to give meaning to Indigenous peoples' standing as subjects of international law.