Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (ILO No. 169),
72 ILO Official Bull. 59, entered into force Sept. 5, 1991.
The General Conference of
the International Labour Organisation,
Having been convened at
Geneva by the Governing Body of the International Labour Office, and
having met in its seventy-sixth session on 7 June 1989, and
Noting the international
standards contained in the Indigenous and Tribal Populations
Convention and Recommendation, 1957, and
Recalling the terms of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, and the many international instruments on
the prevention of discrimination, and
Considering that the
developments which have taken place in international law since 1957,
as well as developments in the situation of indigenous and tribal
peoples in all regions of the world, have made it appropriate to adopt
new international standards on the subject with a view to removing the
assimilationist orientation of the earlier standards, and Recognising
the aspirations of these peoples to exercise control over their own
institutions, ways of life and economic development and to maintain
and develop their identities, languages and religions, within the
framework of the States in which they live, and
Noting that in many parts
of the world these peoples are unable to enjoy their fundamental human
rights to the same degree as the rest of the population of the States
within which they live, and that their laws, values, customs and
perspectives have often been eroded, and
Calling attention to the
distinctive contributions of indigenous and tribal peoples to the
cultural diversity and social and ecological harmony of humankind and
to international co-operation and understanding, and
Noting that the following
provisions have been framed with the cooperation of the United Nations,
the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and
the World Health Organization, as well as of the Inter-American Indian
Institute, at appropriate levels and in their respective fields and
that it is proposed to continue this co-operation in promoting and
securing the application of these provisions, and
Having decided upon the
adoption of certain proposals with regard to the partial revision of
the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957 (No. 107),
which is the fourth item on the agenda of the session, and
Having determined that
these proposals shall take the form of an international Convention
revising the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957,
Adopts this twenty-seventh
day of June of the year one thousand nine hundred and eighty-nine the
following Convention. which may be cited as the Indigenous and Tribal
Peoples Convention, 1989;
PART I. GENERAL
1. This Convention applies
(a) Tribal peoples in
independent countries whose social, cultural and economic conditions
distinguish them from other sections of the national community, and
whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or
traditions or by special laws or regulations;
(b) Peoples in independent
countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent
from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical
region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or
colonisation or the establishment of present State boundaries and who,
irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own
social, economic, cultural and political institutions.
2. Self-identification as
indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as a fundamental criterion for
determining the groups to which the provisions of this Convention
3. The use of the term
"peoples" in this Convention shall not be construed as
having any implications as regards the rights which may attach to the
term under international law.
1. Governments shall have
the responsibility for developing, with the participation of the
peoples concerned, co-ordinated and systematic action to protect the
rights of these peoples and to guarantee respect for their integrity.
2. Such action shall
include measures for:
(a) Ensuring that members
of these peoples benefit on an equal footing from the rights and
opportunities which national laws and regulations grant to other
members of the population;
(b) Promoting the full
realisation of the social, economic and cultural rights of these
peoples with respect for their social and cultural identity, their
customs and traditions and their institutions;
(c) Assisting the members
of the peoples concerned to eliminate socio-economic gaps that may
exist between indigenous and other members of the national community,
in a manner compatible with their aspirations and ways of life.
1. Indigenous and tribal
peoples shall enjoy the full measure of human rights and fundamental
freedoms without hindrance or discrimination. The provisions of the
Convention shall be applied without discrimination to male and female
members of these peoples.
2. No form of force or
coercion shall be used in violation of the human rights and
fundamental freedoms of the peoples concerned, including the rights
contained in this Convention.
1. Special measures shall
be adopted as appropriate for safeguarding the persons, institutions,
property, labour, cultures and environment of the peoples concerned.
2. Such special measures
shall not be contrary to the freely-expressed wishes of the peoples
3. Enjoyment of the
general rights of citizenship, without discrimination, shall not be
prejudiced in any way by such special measures.
In applying the provisions
of this Convention:
(a) The social, cultural,
religious and spiritual values and practices of these peoples shall be
recognised and protected, and due account shall be taken of the nature
of the problems which face them both as groups and as individuals;
(b) The integrity of the
values, practices and institutions of these peoples shall be respected;
(c) Policies aimed at
mitigating the difficulties experienced by these peoples in facing new
conditions of life and work shall be adopted, with the participation
and co-operation of the peoples affected.
1. In applying the
provisions of this Convention, Governments shall:
(a) Consult the peoples
concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through
their representative institutions, whenever consideration is being
given to legislative or administrative measures which may affect them
(b) Establish means by
which these peoples can freely participate, to at least the same
extent as other sectors of the population, at all levels of
decision-making in elective institutions and administrative and other
bodies responsible for policies and programmes which concern them;
(c) Establish means for
the full development of these peoples' own institutions and
initiatives, and in appropriate cases provide the resources necessary
for this purpose.
2. The consultations
carried out in application of this Convention shall be undertaken, in
good faith and in a form appropriate to the circumstances, with the
objective of achieving agreement or consent to the proposed measures.
1. The peoples concerned
shall have the right to decide their own priorities for the process of
development as it affects their lives, beliefs, institutions and
spiritual well-being and the lands they occupy or otherwise use, and
to exercise control, to the extent possible, over their own economic,
social and cultural development. In addition, they shall participate
in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and
programmes for national and regional development which may affect them
2. The improvement of the
conditions of life and work and levels of health and education of the
peoples concerned, with their participation and co-operation, shall be
a matter of priority in plans for the overall economic development of
areas they inhabit. Special projects for development of the areas in
question shall also be so designed as to promote such improvement.
3. Governments shall
ensure that, whenever appropriate, studies are carried out, in
co-operation with the peoples concerned, to assess the social,
spiritual, cultural and environmental impact on them of planned
development activities. The results of these studies shall be
considered as fundamental criteria for the implementation of these
4. Governments shall take
measures, in co-operation with the peoples concerned, to protect and
preserve the environment of the territories they inhabit.
1. In applying national
laws and regulations to the peoples concerned, due regard shall be had
to their customs or customary laws.
2. These peoples shall
have the right to retain their own customs and institutions, where
these are not incompatible with fundamental rights defined by the
national legal system and with internationally recognized human
rights. Procedures shall be established, whenever necessary, to
resolve conflicts which may arise in the application of this principle.
3. The application of
paragraphs I and 2 of this Article shall not prevent members of these
peoples from exercising the rights granted to all citizens and from
assuming the corresponding duties.
1. To the extent
compatible with the national legal system and internationally
recognised human rights. the methods customarily practised by the
peoples concerned for dealing with offences committed by their members
shall be respected.
2. The customs of these
peoples in regard to penal matters shall be taken into consideration
by the authorities and courts dealing with such cases.
1. In imposing penalties
laid down by general law on members of these peoples account shall be
taken of their economic, social and cultural characteristics .
2. Preference shall be
given to methods of punishment other than confinement in prison.
The exaction from members
of the peoples concerned of compulsory personal services in any form,
whether paid or unpaid, shall be prohibited and punishable by law,
except in cases prescribed by law for all citizens.
The peoples concerned
shall be safeguarded against the abuse of their rights and shall be
able to take legal proceedings, either individually or through their
representative bodies, for the effective protection of these rights.
Measures shall be taken to ensure that members of these peoples can
understand and be understood in legal proceedings, where necessary
through the provision of interpretation or by other effective means.
PART II. LAND
1. In applying the
provisions of this Part of the Convention governments shall respect
the special importance for the cultures and spiritual values of the
peoples concerned of their relationship with the lands or territories,
or both as applicable, which they occupy or otherwise use, and in
particular the collective aspects of this relationship.
2. The use of the term
"lands" in Articles 15 and 16 shall include the concept of
territories, which covers the total environment of the areas which the
peoples concerned occupy or otherwise use.
1. The rights of ownership
and possession of the peoples concerned over the lands which they
traditionally occupy shall be recognised. In addition, measures shall
be taken in appropriate cases to safeguard the right of the peoples
concerned to use lands not exclusively occupied by them, but to which
they have traditionally had access for their subsistence and
traditional activities. Particular attention shall be paid to the
situation of nomadic peoples and shifting cultivators in this respect.
2. Governments shall take
steps as necessary to identify the lands which the peoples concerned
traditionally occupy, and to guarantee effective protection of their
rights of ownership and possession.
3. Adequate procedures
shall be established within the national legal system to resolve land
claims by the peoples concerned.
1. The rights of the
peoples concerned to the natural resources pertaining to their lands
shall be specially safeguarded. These rights include the right of
these peoples to participate in the use, management and conservation
of these resources.
2. In cases in which the
State retains the ownership of mineral or sub-surface resources or
rights to other resources pertaining to lands, governments shall
establish or maintain procedures through which they shall consult
these peoples, with a view to ascertaining whether and to what degree
their interests would be prejudiced, before undertaking or permitting
any programmes for the exploration or exploitation of such resources
pertaining to their lands. The peoples concerned shall wherever
possible participate in the benefits of such activities, and shall
receive fair compensation for any damages which they may sustain as a
result of such activities.
1. Subject to the
following paragraphs of this Article, the peoples concerned shall not
be removed from the lands which they occupy.
2. Where the relocation of
these peoples is considered necessary as an exceptional measure, such
relocation shall take place only with their free and informed consent.
Where their consent cannot be obtained, such relocation shall take
place only following appropriate procedures established by national
laws and regulations, including public inquiries where appropriate,
which provide the opportunity for effective representation of the
3. Whenever possible,
these peoples shall have the right to return to their traditional
lands, as soon as the grounds for relocation cease to exist.
4. When such return is not
possible, as determined by agreement or, in the absence of such
agreement, through appropriate procedures, these peoples shall be
provided in all possible cases with lands of quality and legal status
at least equal to that of the lands previously occupied by them,
suitable to provide for their present needs and future development.
Where the peoples concerned express a preference for compensation in
money or in kind, they shall be so compensated under appropriate
5. Persons thus relocated
shall be fully compensated for any resulting loss or injury.
1. Procedures established
by the peoples concerned for the transmission of land rights among
members of these peoples shall be respected.
2. The peoples concerned
shall be consulted whenever consideration is being given to their
capacity to alienate their lands or otherwise transmit their rights
outside their own community.
3. Persons not belonging
to these peoples shall be prevented from taking advantage of their
customs or of lack of understanding of the laws on the part of their
members to secure the ownership, possession or use of land belonging
Adequate penalties shall
be established by law for unauthorised intrusion upon, or use of, the
lands of the peoples concerned, and governments shall take measures to
prevent such offences.
programmes shall secure to the peoples concerned treatment equivalent
to that accorded to other sectors of the population with regard to:
(a) The provision of more
land for these peoples when they have not the area necessary for
providing the essentials of a normal existence, or for any possible
increase in their numbers;
(b) The provision of the
means required to promote the development of the lands which these
peoples already possess.
RECRUITMENT AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
1. Governments shall,
within the framework of national laws and regulations, and in
co-operation with the peoples concerned, adopt special measures to
ensure the effective protection with regard to recruitment and
conditions of employment of workers belonging to these peoples, to the
extent that they are not effectively protected by laws applicable to
workers in general.
2. Governments shall do
everything possible to prevent any discrimination between workers
belonging to the peoples concerned and other workers, in particular as
(a) Admission to
employment, including skilled employment, as well as measures for
promotion and advancement;
(b) Equal remuneration for
work of equal value;
(c) Medical and social
assistance, occupational safety and health, all social security
benefits and any other occupationally related benefits, and housing;
(d) The right of
association and freedom for all lawful trade union activities, and the
right to conclude collective agreements with employers or employers'
3. The measures taken
shall include measures to ensure:
(a) That workers belonging
to the peoples concerned, including seasonal, casual and migrant
workers in agricultural and other employment, as well as those
employed by labour contractors, enjoy the protection afforded by
national law and practice to other such workers in the same sectors,
and that they are fully informed of their rights under labour
legislation and of the means of redress available to them;
(b) That workers belonging
to these peoples are not subjected to working conditions hazardous to
their health, in particular through exposure to pesticides or other
(c) That workers belonging
to these peoples are not subjected to coercive recruitment systems,
including bonded labour and other forms of debt servitude;
(d) That workers belonging
to these peoples enjoy equal opportunities and equal treatment in
employment for men and women, and protection from sexual harassment.
4. Particular attention
shall be paid to the establishment of adequate labour inspection
services in areas where workers belonging to the peoples concerned
undertake wage employment, in order to ensure compliance with the
provisions of this Part of this Convention.
PART IV. VOCATIONAL
TRAINING, HANDICRAFTS AND RURAL INDUSTRIES
Members of the peoples
concerned shall enjoy opportunities at least equal to those of other
citizens in respect of vocational training measures.
1. Measures shall be taken
to promote the voluntary participation of members of the peoples
concerned in vocational training programmes of general application.
2. Whenever existing
programmes of vocational training of general application do not meet
the special needs of the peoples concerned, governments shall, with
the participation of these peoples, ensure the provision of special
training programmes and facilities.
3. Any special training
programmes shall be based on the economic environment, social and
cultural conditions and practical needs of the peoples concerned. Any
studies made in this connection shall be carried out in co-operation
with these peoples, who shall be consulted on the organisation and
operation of such programmes. Where feasible, these peoples shall
progressively assume responsibility for the organisation and operation
of such special training programmes, if they so decide.
1. Handicrafts, rural and
community-based industries, and subsistence economy and traditional
activities of the peoples concerned, such as hunting, fishing,
trapping and gathering, shall be recognised as important factors in
the maintenance of their cultures and in their economic self-reliance
and development. Governments shall, with the participation of these
peoples and whenever appropriate, ensure that these activities are
strengthened and promoted.
2. Upon the request of the
peoples concerned, appropriate technical and financial assistance
shall be provided wherever possible, taking into account the
traditional technologies and cultural characteristics of these
peoples, as well as the importance of sustainable and equitable
PART V. SOCIAL
SECURITY AND HEALTH
Social security schemes
shall be extended progressively to cover the peoples concerned, and
applied without discrimination against them.
1. Governments shall
ensure that adequate health services are made available to the peoples
concerned, or shall provide them with resources to allow them to
design and deliver such services under their own responsibility and
control, so that they may enjoy the highest attainable standard of
physical and mental health.
2. Health services shall,
to the extent possible, be community-based. These services shall be
planned and administered in co-operation with the peoples concerned
and take into account their economic, geographic, social and cultural
conditions as well as their traditional preventive care, healing
practices and medicines.
3. The health care system
shall give preference to the training and employment of local
community health workers, and focus on primary health care while
maintaining strong links with other levels of health care services.
4. The provision of such
health services shall be co-ordinated with other social, economic and
cultural measures in the country.
PART VI. EDUCATION
AND MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
Measures shall be taken to
ensure that members of the peoples concerned have the opportunity to
acquire education at all levels on at least an equal footing with the
rest of the national community.
1. Education programmes
and services for the peoples concerned shall be developed and
implemented in co-operation with them to address their special needs,
and shall incorporate their histories, their knowledge and
technologies, their value systems and their further social, economic
and cultural aspirations.
2. The competent authority
shall ensure the training of members of these peoples and their
involvement in the formulation and implementation of education
programmes, with a view to the progressive transfer of responsibility
for the conduct of these programmes to these peoples as appropriate.
3. In addition,
governments shall recognise the right of these peoples to establish
their own educational institutions and facilities, provided that such
institutions meet minimum standards established by the competent
authority in consultation with these peoples. Appropriate resources
shall be provided for this purpose.
1. Children belonging to
the peoples concerned shall, wherever practicable, be taught to read
and write in their own indigenous language or in the language most
commonly used by the group to which they belong. When this is not
practicable, the competent authorities shall undertake consultations
with these peoples with a view to the adoption of measures to achieve
2. Adequate measures shall
be taken to ensure that these peoples have the opportunity to attain
fluency in the national language or in one of the official languages
of the country.
3. Measures shall be taken
to preserve and promote the development and practice of the indigenous
languages of the peoples concerned.
The imparting of general
knowledge and skills that will help children belonging to the peoples
concerned to participate fully and on an equal footing in their own
community and in the national community shall be an aim of education
for these peoples.
1. Governments shall adopt
measures appropriate to the traditions and cultures of the peoples
concerned, to make known to them their rights and duties, especially
in regard to labour, economic opportunities, education and health
matters, social welfare and their rights deriving from this
2. If necessary, this
shall be done by means of written translations and through the use of
mass communications in the languages of these peoples.
Educational measures shall
be taken among all sections of the national community, and
particularly among those that are in most direct contact with the
peoples concerned, with the object of eliminating prejudices that they
may harbour in respect of these peoples. To this end, efforts shall be
made to ensure that history textbooks and other educational materials
provide a fair, accurate and informative portrayal of the societies
and cultures of these peoples.
PART V. CONTACTS AND
CO-OPERATION ACROSS BORDERS
Governments shall take
appropriate measures, including by means of international agreements,
to facilitate contacts and co-operation between indigenous and tribal
peoples across borders, including activities in the economic, social,
cultural, spiritual and environmental fields.
1. The governmental
authority responsible for the matters covered in this Convention shall
ensure that agencies or other appropriate mechanisms exist to
administer the programmes affecting the peoples concerned. and shall
ensure that they have the means necessary for the proper fulfilment of
the functions assigned to them.
2. These programmes shall
(a) The planning,
co-ordination, execution and evaluation, in cooperation with the
peoples concerned, of the measures provided for in this Convention;
(b) The proposing of
legislative and other measures to the competent authorities and
supervision of the application of the measures taken, in cooperation
with the peoples concerned.
PART IX. GENERAL
The nature and scope of
the measures to be taken to give effect to this Convention shall be
determined in a flexible manner, having regard to the conditions
characteristic of each country.
The application of the
provisions of this Convention shall not adversely affect rights and
benefits of the peoples concerned pursuant to other Conventions and
Recommendations, international instruments, treaties, or national laws,
awards, custom or agreements.
PART X. FINAL
This Convention revises
the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957.
The formal ratifications
of this Convention shall be communicated to the Director-General of
the International Labour Office for registration.
1. This Convention shall
be binding only upon those Members of the International Labour
Organisation whose ratifications have been registered with the
2. It shall come into
force twelve months after the date on which the ratifications of two
Members have been registered with the Director General.
3. Thereafter, this
Convention shall come into force for any Member twelve months after
the date on which its ratification has been registered.
1. A Member which has
ratified this Convention may denounce it after the expiration of ten
years from the date on which the Convention first comes into force, by
an act communicated to the Director-General of the International
Labour Office for registration. Such denunciation shall not take
effect until one year after the date on which it is registered.
2. Each Member which has
ratified this Convention and which does not, within the year following
the expiration of the period of ten years mentioned in the preceding
paragraph, exercise the right of denunciation provided for in this
Article, will be bound for another period of ten years and, thereafter,
may denounce this Convention at the expiration of each period of ten
years under the terms provided for in this Article.
1. The Director-General of
the International Labour Office shall notify all Members of the
International Labour Organisation of the registration of all
ratifications and denunciations communicated to him by the Members of
2. When notifying the
Members of the Organisation of the registration of the second
ratification communicated to him, the Director-General shall draw the
attention of the Members of the Organisation to the date upon which
the Convention will come into force.
The Director-General of
the International Labour Office shall communicate to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations for registration in accordance
with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations full particulars
of all ratifications and acts of denunciation registered by him in
accordance with the provisions of the preceding Articles.
At such times as it may
consider necessary the Governing Body of the International Labour
Office shall present to the General Conference a report on the working
of this Convention and shall examine the desirability of placing on
the agenda of the Conference the question of its revision in whole or
1. Should the Conference
adopt a new Convention revising this Convention in whole or in part,
then, unless the new Convention otherwise provides:
(a) The ratification by a
Member of the new revising Convention shall ipso jure involve the
immediate denunciation of this Convention, notwithstanding the
provisions of Article 39 above, if and when the new revising
Convention shall have come into force:
(b) As from the date when
the new revising Convention comes into force this Convention shall
cease to be open to ratification by the Members.
2. This Convention shall
in any case remain in force in its actual form and content for those
Members which have ratified it but have not ratified the revising
The English and French versions of the text of this Convention are