Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management


School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Maia Hallward

Second Advisor

Robbie Lieberman

Third Advisor

Miriam Brown Spiers


The establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and non-Indigenous support of Indigenous-led social movements in the 2010s have introduced new dynamics to the ways Indigenous rights civil society organizations (CSOs) conduct advocacy. Much of the literature on Indigenous advocacy focuses on CSO relationships prior to the Permanent Forum’s first meeting in 2002, and on the impact of subsequent developments on the relationships of Indigenous nations, CSOs, and activists with state actors. While this literature outlines methods for Indigenous peoples to utilize in their interactions with states, Indigenous peoples historically face obstacles within transnational advocacy networks, and their relationships with CSOs affect the efficacy and outcomes of their advocacy. There is a gap in the literature dealing with how these recent developments affected relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous CSOs associated with the global Indigenous rights movement, and what these new realities mean for Indigenous rights advocacy.

Drawing on literature on transnational advocacy networks, Indigenous activism, and movement framing, this dissertation asks: How have relationships, interactions, and shared goals between Indigenous and non-Indigenous CSOs connected to the global Indigenous rights movement developed and changed following the creation of the Permanent Forum and the passage of UNDRIP? Using thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with volunteers and staff of Indigenous and non-Indigenous CSOs associated with the global Indigenous rights movement, this study examines evolutions in the mutual understanding, collaboration, communication, resource sharing, and power dynamics between Indigenous and non-Indigenous CSOs over the past twenty-two years. The findings of this research demonstrate that Indigenous CSOs across contexts experienced increases in support and/or awareness in recent years, maintained independence in their messaging, and encountered persistent issues related to the essentialization of Indigenous identity amongst non-Indigenous audiences. Regional variation between Asian and CANZUS country CSOs (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States) occurred in the levels of optimism for sustaining non-Indigenous support, the usage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in advocacy efforts, and trends in partnerships across CSO types. Ultimately, UNDRIP has provided a set of rights for organizations to point towards, but it did not change the dynamics within Indigenous rights networks.

Available for download on Thursday, May 06, 2027