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Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2018
Authors Stuart Kirsch
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Stuart Kirsch
Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan.

    In May 2017, the Ogiek indigenous community of Kenya successfully challenged the denial of their land and associated rights before the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights (‘the Court’). In the first indigenous peoples’ rights case considered the Court, and by far the largest ever case it has had to consider, the Court found violations of Articles 1, 2, 8, 14, 17 (2) and (3), 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Charter’). It therefore created a major legal precedent. In addition, the litigation itself and Ogiek’s participation in the various stages of the legal process provided a model for community engagement, through which the Ogiek were empowered to better understand and advocate for their rights. This article will first explain the history of the case and the Court’s findings, and then move on to examine in further detail methods employed to build the Ogiek’s capacity throughout, and even beyond, the litigation.


Lucy Claridge
Legal Director, Minority Rights Group International.

Kristin Henrard Ph.D.
Kristin Henrard is professor minorities and fundamental rights in the department of International and EU law of the Erasmus School of Law in the Netherlands.

Jeremie Gilbert
Jeremie Gilbert is professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Roehampton in the UK.

    This article sets out to contribute to the special issue devoted to multi-disciplinary legal research by discussing first the limits of purely doctrinal legal research in relation to a particular topic and second the relevant considerations in devising research that (inter alia) draws on non-legal, auxiliary disciplines to ‘fill in’ and guide the legal framework. The topic concerned is the (analysis of the) fundamental rights of minorities.
    The article starts with a long account of the flaws in the current legal analysis of the European Court of Human Rights regarding minorities’ rights, particularly the reduction in its analysis and the related failure to properly identify and weigh all relevant interests and variables. This ‘prelude’ provides crucial insights in the causes of the flaws in the Court’s jurisprudence: lack of knowledge (about the relevant interests and variables) and concerns with the Court’s political legitimacy.
    The article goes on to argue for the need for multi-disciplinary legal research to tackle the lack of knowledge: more particularly by drawing on sociology (and related social sciences) and political philosophy as auxiliary disciplines to identify additional interests and variables for the rights analysis. The ensuing new analytical framework for the analysis of minorities’ rights would benefit international courts (adjudicating on human rights) generally. To operationalise and refine the new analytical framework, the research should furthermore have regard to the practice of (a selection of) international courts and national case studies.


Kristin Henrard
Professor of minorities and fundamental rights at the Erasmus School of Law.
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