Using International Law to Respond to VAIW and the MMIWG Crisis


The MMIW crisis in America is not just the result of the failures of our criminal justice system, it is a result of systemic violations of indigenous women’s human rights. The presentation will review the international legal framework applicable to MMIW and other forms of violence committed against indigenous women. We will look closely at the two key human rights instruments that are specific to indigenous peoples—the UN and American Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Both Declarations create minimum legal standards and obligations that countries must observe in their dealings with indigenous peoples. The rights affirmed in these Declarations include the right of self-determination, rights to lands and resources, and the right of indigenous women and children to be protected against violence. We will also discuss how recent actions by the UN Human Rights Council recognizing the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment can impact our work in this field. Finally, the session will share information about the work Native women, tribes, and organizations have done using the international and regional human rights systems to advance indigenous women’s rights and offer information about how you can get involved in these efforts.