ILO Convention 169: 20 Years Later
On June 27th, it will be 20 years since the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 was adopted and ratified by 20 countries. This Convention is only the second international human rights instrument to deal specifically with the human rights of indigenous peoples.
On June 27th, it will be 20 years since the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 was adopted and ratified by 20 countries. This Convention is only the second international human rights instrument to deal specifically with the human rights of indigenous peoples. The first international instrument was ILO Convention No. 107, which was adopted in 1957. Indigenous peoples around the world called for the adoption of new standards -- standards that would recognize indigenous peoples' right to exist as separate, distinct peoples.
ILO 169 was agreed by governments in 1989, however, an international convention does not become law for any particular country until that country's government actually ratifies it. When a government ratifies a convention, it agrees to be bound by the convention and that all the laws of its country are consistent with the rules in the convention.
Did you know…?
Two centuries ago indigenous people lived in most of the earth’s ecosystems. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), indigenous people today have the legal right to use only about 6% of the planet’s land and in many cases their rights are partial or qualified.
The ILO Convention 169 protects the rights of indigenous peoples and their land rights. According to the Convention adopted 20 years ago, it recognizes:
- Land and property rights for indigenous peoples: The Convention recognizes that indigenous and tribal peoples’ cultures and identities form an integral part of their lives - and that their way of life often differs from that of the dominant population.
- Equality and Liberty for indigenous peoples.
- Autonomy of indigenous peoples.
Which countries have ratified this Convention 169…?
Countries that ratified Convention 169 in 1989: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile , Dominica, Ecuador, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Spain.
UNPO is working to get all states to ratify the Convention, particularly: Australia, Canada and the United States, who have pledged to protect the human rights of their large indigenous populations but who have still to sign the Convention. France and the United Kingdom, countries with significant commercial investments on indigenous lands, have also still to sign and ratify the Convention.
UNPOs members stand together in urging states to sign and ratify the ILO Convention 169.
To show your support for this campaign click here to sign the UNPO ILO 169 Convention Petition
Statistics and key facts about indigenous peoples...
• Indigenous peoples constitute about 5% of the world’s population yet account for about 15% of the world’s poor (IFAD)
• About 300 to 370 million people belong to the world’s indigenous groups (World Bank – UNPFII)
• Indigenous peoples have some 4,000 languages (IFAD)
• There are more than 5,000 different groups of indigenous peoples living in more than 70 countries (IFAD)
• Indigenous peoples make up about one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people (IFAD)
• Indigenous peoples live in every region of the world, but about 70% of them live in Asia (IFAD)
• About 1.2 billion people in the world today live on less than one dollar a day (World Bank)
• Latin America’s 50 million indigenous people make up 11% of the region’s population (IFAD)
• During the 1990s the indigenous poverty gap in selected countries in Latin America grew to be wider than in previous periods (World Bank)
• Ethnic minority groups make up less than 9% of China ’s total population but are believed to account for about 40% of the country’s extremely poor people (World Bank – UNDP)
• In 2001 about 90% of Australia’s indigenous population were identified as being of Aboriginal origin, 6% were identified as being of Torres Strait Islander origin and 4% were identified as being of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin (Australian Bureau of Statistics)
• Indigenous peoples are not always in the minority. In Bolivia and Guatemala indigenous peoples make up more than half the population (UNDP)
• In Australia some 500 languages have been lost since Europeans arrived on the continent (UNDP)
• Life expectancy for Aboriginal men in Australia is 59 years, compared to 77 for Australian men in general (Survival International)
• A recent study indicated that ending the marginalization of indigenous peoples could bring about the expansion of the national economies of Bolivia (by 37%), Brazil (by 13%), Guatemala (by 14%) and Peru (by 5%) (IFAD)
• In Guatemala 86.6% of indigenous peoples are poor, and in Mexico 80.6% of them are poor (World Bank)
Poverty situation and access to land
• Living conditions on Canadian Indian reserves are at the same level as those in a country with a ranking of 78 on the UNDP Human Development Index (CHOIKE)
• Indigenous peoples suffer higher rates of poverty, landlessness, malnutrition and internal displacement than other members of society, and they have lower levels of literacy and less access to health services (IFAD)
• The Adivasi, or tribal peoples of India, constitute only 8% of the total population of the country, but 40% of them are internally displaced (IFAD)
• In Thailand, more than 40% of indigenous girls and women who migrate to cities work in the sex trade. The majority of females trafficked across state borders in south-east Asia are from indigenous communities (IFAD)
• The Amazon River Basin is home to about 400 different indigenous groups. While it accounts for just 7% of the world’s surface area, it harbours more than half of the world’s biodiversity (IFAD)
• Two centuries ago indigenous people lived in most of the earth’s ecosystems. Today they have the legal right to use only about 6% of the planet’s land and in many cases their rights are partial or qualified (IFAD)