Indigenous Peoples in French Guiana: will France ever recognize their right to self-determination, land, territory, biodiversity and Free, Prior and Informed Consent?

Supplementary Files

Elliot Mur Spring Issue 2024


French Guiana, located in South America, hosts over 10,000 Indigenous Peoples, principally the Kali’na Tileuyu, Lokono and Pahikweneh, Wayãpi, Teko and Wayana people. Despite making up around 4% of the total population, Indigenous Peoples in French Guiana continue to face systematic challenges in being able to fully enjoy their human rights and rights as Indigenous Peoples. As an overseas territory of France, French Guiana falls under the governance of France and is fully integrated as an overseas department, separate from other overseas territories such as New Caledonia. This full integration has classified Indigenous Peoples as French People, making it not only difficult to get estimates of the actual number of Indigenous Peoples in French Guiana as the French Constitution prohibits ethnic statistics, but also prevent the ability of Indigenous Peoples to obtain their right to self-determination and control over their own land as provided in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Therefore, this paper will discuss the violations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples committed by France that hinders their attainment to their fundamental freedoms and basic human rights. To do so, this paper will firstly begin by discussing the implementation of the UNDRIP in French Guiana in reference to several articles. In explaining the various articles, it will demonstrate how the French government’s recent actions continue to lead to the destruction of Indigenous territories and threaten their survival. Moreover, this paper will focus on articles 3, 10, 25, 29 which pertain to the right to self-determination, the right to land and territories, and the right to protect biodiversity. These rights alongside the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) should allow Indigenous Peoples to exercise control over decisions that essentially affect not only their way of life but also their existence, particularly considering the history of Indigenous Peoples that have frequently been the “first victims of development activities.”