Between Indigenous Paramountcy and Democracy: How Differentiated Citizenship and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Could Help Fijian Self-determination

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Abstract

Contemporary Fijian politics is shaped by a colonial legacy of extraordinary complexity and political tension. Since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1970, Fiji's history has been distinguished by incoherent and inconsistent accounts of political power. These concern the political rights belonging to indigenous peoples as first occupants vis-à-vis the claims to political recognition by the descendants of Indian indentured labourers. The relative power between the indigenous aristocracy and commoners is a further complicating variable. Following three coups (1987 and 2006) and a putsch (2000), indigenous paramount authority has been positioned against various forms of democracy and military oversight of the political process. However, none of these political arrangements has enhanced indigenous self-determination. This article argues that indigenous self-determination is more likely to be realised through a form of differentiated liberal citizenship consistent with the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This reasonably requires the extension of the Declaration's provisions to indigenous Fijians, who, as a recent majority indigenous population, are constrained by colonial legacy in a similar manner to the minority indigenous populations for whose benefit the Declaration was primarily adopted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Volume64
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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