‘Sovereignty’ and its Relevance to Treaty-Making Between Indigenous Peoples and Australian Governments



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Sovereignty’ and its Relevance to Treaty-Making Between Indigenous Peoples and Australian Governments


SEAN BRENNAN,* BRENDA GUNN** AND GEORGE WILLIAMS***

Abstract


The idea of a treaty or treaties between Indigenous peoples and Australian governments has long been a subject of debate. One argument that often arises is the idea that such agreements are not achievable because they are inconsistent with Australian ‘sovereignty’. This article explores whether sovereignty is indeed a roadblock to modern treaty-making. It analyses what the term means as well as uses of it in Australia by Indigenous peoples, governments and the courts and how it is applied in other nations. The article concludes, after analysing some common objections, that as a matter of public law the concept of sovereignty need not be an impediment to treaty-making in Australia.



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