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  3. Comparative Indigenous Rights

Comparative Indigenous Rights (LAWS90127)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90127
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This highly topical subject analyses the rights of Indigenous peoples in Australia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand. Topics discussed include Aboriginal title and the doctrine of discovery, treaties, land and resource rights, self-determination, and Indigenous families and justice. The subject will be taught from a critical perspective, comparing and assessing the treatment of Indigenous rights in the four jurisdictions. In exploring these issues, the subject will also examine aspects of legal pluralism, and assess a variety of normative and political justifications for Indigenous rights.

Principal topics include:

  • History of the concept of Aboriginal title and the doctrine of discovery
  • Concepts of sui generis agreement-making between Indigenous peoples and governments
  • Implications of distinctions between government obligations and Indigenous rights
  • Overview of current practice
  • Law applicable to Indigenous entities
  • Legal framework for Indigenous governance
  • Human rights and their influence on Indigenous rights
  • Remedies.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have a broader understanding of the rule of law and its relationship to colonialism in the selected countries
  • Appreciate the sources of Indigenous legal traditions within Indigenous rights, including the development of an appreciation for the role of non-textual materials in understanding law
  • Identify how Indigenous legal traditions can be made more accessible through formal state legal institutions and Indigenous community mechanisms
  • Develop practical reasoning skills necessary to apply Indigenous law to contemporary problems and conflicts
  • Critically and constructively examine tensions between governments and Indigenous communities
  • Have a sophisticated theoretical and doctrinal understanding of each of the topic areas used in the syllabus to explore the relationship between Indigenous peoples' law and formal state law
  • Distinguish and analogize, compare and contrast, the treatment of Indigenous rights in four jurisdictions
  • Understand the relationship of Indigenous rights to property law, contract law, constitutional law and international law.

Last updated: 23 August 2019