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Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989

The Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 is an International Labour Organization Convention, also known as ILO-convention 169, or C169. It is the major binding international convention concerning indigenous peoples, and a forerunner of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989
ILO Convention
Date of adoption June 27, 1989
Date in force September 5, 1991
Classification Indigenous and Tribal Peoples
Subject Indigenous and Tribal Peoples
Previous Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment Convention, 1988
Next Chemicals Convention, 1990

It was established in 1989, with the preamble stating:

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...[1]



The convention is made of a Preamble, followed by forty-four articles, divided in ten parts. These are:

  • Part I. General Policy
  • Part II. Land
  • Part III. Recruitment And Conditions Of Employment
  • Part IV. Vocational Training, Handicrafts And Rural Industries
  • Part V. Social Security And Health
  • Part VI. Education And Means Of Communication
  • Part VII. Contacts And Co-operation Across Borders
  • Part VIII. Administration
  • Part IX. General Provisions
  • Part X. Final Provisions


This Convention revised Convention C107, the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957. Some of the nations ratifying the 1989 Convention "denounced" the 1957 Convention.

Purpose and historyEdit

The ILO 169 convention is the most important operative international law guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples. Its strength, however, is dependent on a high number of ratifications among nations.[2][3][4]

The revision to the Convention 107 has meant that the integrationist and assimilationist approach are no longer acceptable doctrines for the governments to pursue.[5] Indigenous peoples should hold the right to choose to integrate or maintain their cultural and political integrity. Articles 8–10 recognize the cultures, traditions, and special circumstances of indigenous tribal peoples.

In November 2009, a court decision in Chile, considered to be a landmark in indigenous rights concerns, made use of the ILO convention law. The court ruled unanimously in favor of granting a water flow of 9 liters per second to Chusmiza and Usmagama communities. The legal dispute had dragged for 14 years, and centers on community water rights in one of the driest deserts on the planet. The Supreme Court decision on Aymara water rights upholds rulings by both the Pozo Almonte tribunal and the Iquique Court of Appeals, and marks the first judicial application of ILO Convention 169 in Chile.[6] Prior to this decision, some protests had escalated over the failure to respect the Convention 169 in Chile. Mapuche leaders filed an injunction against Michelle Bachelet and minister of the presidency José Antonio Viera Gallo, who is also coordinator of indigenous affairs, with the argument that the government had failed to fully comply with the Convention 169 clause on the right to "prior consultation," which must be carried out "in good faith and in a form appropriate to the circumstances, with the objective of achieving agreement or consent to the proposed measures," such as logging, agribusiness or mining projects in indigenous territories. There were already several examples of the successful use of the ILO Convention in Chile, like the case of a Machi woman who brought legal action to protect a plot of land with herbs used for medicinal purposes, which was threatened by the forest industry. Some concerns were however raised at the time over the political framework of the government being brought in line with the convention, and not the other way around.[7]


The following countries have ratified this Convention:[8]
Country Date Notes
  Argentina 03:07:2000 ratified
  Bolivia 11:12:1991 ratified
  Brazil 25:07:2002 ratified
  Central African Republic 30:08:2010 ratified
  Chile 15:09:2008 ratified
  Colombia 07:08:1991 ratified
  Costa Rica 02:04:1993 ratified
  Denmark 22:02:1996 ratified
  Dominica 25:06:2002 ratified
  Ecuador 15:05:1998 ratified
  Fiji 03:03:1998 ratified
  Guatemala 05:06:1996 ratified
  Honduras 28:03:1995 ratified
  Mexico 05:09:1990 ratified
  Nepal 14:09:2007 ratified
  Netherlands 02:02:1998 ratified
  Nicaragua 25:08:2010 ratified
  Norway 19:06:1990 ratified
  Paraguay 10:08:1993 ratified
  Peru 02:02:1994 ratified
  Spain 15:02:2007 ratified
  Venezuela 22:05:2002 ratified


  1. ^ ILO Convention C169
  2. ^ Nettheim, Garth (2002). Indigenous Peoples and Governance Structures: A Comparative Analysis of Land and Resource Management Rights. Aboriginal Studies Press. ISBN 0-85575-379-X. 
  3. ^ N. Zillman, Donald (2002). Human Rights in Natural Resource Development: Public Participation in the Sustainable Development of Mining and Energy Resources. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-925378-1. 
  4. ^ Survival International website – ILO 169 Archived October 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Bunn-Livingstone, Sandra (2002). Juricultural Pluralism Vis-a-Vis Treaty Law:State Practice and Attitudes. Springer. ISBN 90-411-1801-2. 
  6. ^ "Chile's Supreme Court Upholds Indigenous Water Use Rights". The Santiago Times. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  7. ^ "CHILE: Indigenous Protests on Several Fronts". IPS. 2009-10-07. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  8. ^ ILO (March 17, 2010). "Convention No. C169". Archived from the original on December 25, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 

External linksEdit