Convention concerning 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,
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
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 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 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
2. Self-identification as
indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as a fundamental criterion
for determining the groups to which the provisions of this
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
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 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
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
(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
(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
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 activities.
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
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
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
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
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 offences.
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 numbers;
(b) The provision of the means
required to promote the development of the lands which these
peoples already possess.
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
(a) Admission to employment,
including skilled employment, as well as measures for promotion
(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'
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
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 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 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 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
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.
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
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 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 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 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 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
The English and French versions of the text of this Convention are