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"Self-development occurs to the extent that indigenous peoples have the autonomy to decide on their future, and this is only possible when indigenous peoples own, dominate and above all, have control over the territory”
Representative of the Nasa people
, Cauca, Colombia.

Welcome to our Documentation Centre

In this section you will find useful training and study materials on current issues about indigenous communities. All included documents are published subject to their respective authors’ rights. All documents and materials created by Almáciga are under a Creative Commons license.

ILO Convention 169

Convention 169 was adopted by ILO in 1989. With its approval, the Organization aimed to update a prior convention (number 107), a treaty that promoted integration of indigenous peoples into the majority societies of the countries where they lived, and which is still in force in several countries. Up to date, Convention 169 has been ratified by twenty-two countries, most of them from Latin America.

The Convention recognized collective rights and deals, among other issues, with fundamental matters for indigenous peoples, like their rights over their territories, promotion of their culture and values, education in their own language, consultation and participation or the validity of their customary laws.
Despite the limited number of ratifications, Convention 169 is a key instrument because it has had a great influence in the drafting of regulations, policies and programmes relating to indigenous peoples, both in the international and in the national level, and also because its binding nature created specific obligations for the ratifying countries.
In the case of Spain, ratification of the Convention implies a relevant step in the process of supporting indigenous peoples, with consequences that go beyond the frame of international cooperation for development. Ratification gives rise to internal obligations, as national legislation needs to be adapted to the Convention. Pursuant to the principle of good faith in compliance with international treaties and obligations arising from the ILO Constitution, any State being party to a Convention is bound to adopt the necessary measures to make such Convention’s provisions effective. Thus, the Convention is transformed into an internal law which needs to be respected, promoted and guaranteed by all public institutions, and binding on all private actors, regardless of their purposes or activities.
The provisions of Convention 169 are reinforced by those of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Both instruments are clearly complementary, and provide a specific legal frame which needs to be taken into account when dealing with any actions having an impact on the lives and rights of indigenous peoples. Documents relating to the Convention can be accessed through the following links.

Text of the Convention.
Web page of Pro-169
Very useful materials can be found at PRO169’s web page. The following stand out: Practice Guide on Convention 169, “The rights of indigenous and tribal peoples in practice”; and the publication “Implementation of Convention 169 by national courts in Latin America” (both in Spanish). You can also request ILO to deliver a “Tool Box” regarding the Convention’s implementation.