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
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
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
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
PART I. GENERAL POLICY
1. This Convention applies to:
(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
(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
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 apply.
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
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
(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
(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 concerned.
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
(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
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 directly;
(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 directly.
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
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
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
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
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
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
3. Adequate procedures shall be
established within the national legal system to resolve land claims by the
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 peoples concerned.
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 guarantees.
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 to them.
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
National agrarian 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
(b) The provision of the means
required to promote the development of the lands which these peoples already
PART III. 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 regards:
(a) Admission to employment,
including skilled employment, as well as measures for promotion and
(b) Equal remuneration for work of
(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' organisations.
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
(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 toxic substances;
(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
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 development.
PART V. SOCIAL SECURITY AND
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
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
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 this objective.
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 Convention.
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
PART VIII. ADMINISTRATION
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 include:
(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 PROVISIONS
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
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
PART X. FINAL PROVISIONS
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 Director-General.
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
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
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 the Organisation.
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
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 in part.
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 Convention.
The English and French versions of the text of this Convention are equally