Human Rights Review

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 313–333 | Cite as

Against Self-Isolation as a Human Right of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America

  • Benjamin GreggEmail author


Advocacy of an indigenous right to isolation in the Latin American context responds to multiple depredations, above all to plundering by extractivists. Two prominent international instruments declare a human right to indigenous self-isolation and articulate a principle of no contact between indigenous peoples and the non-indigenous majority population: Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact in the Americas and Guidelines on the Protection of Indigenous Peoples. In analyzing both, (1) I argue against the notion of a human right to indigenous isolation and for limited, controlled contact between the indigenous peoples and a narrow segment of the larger society. (2) I propose relational human rights as rights that connect people, as rights-bearers, across borders and differences. They would allow for limited outside observation for possible human rights violations within indigenous communities. I then articulate relational human rights of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation as rights to (3) agency, (4) health, (5) territory, and (6) identity.


Indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation No-contact principle Human rights Indigenous rights to agency, health, territory, identity Latin America 



I am grateful for the comments of the three anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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