Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989
ILO Convention
Date of adoptionJune 27, 1989
Date in forceSeptember 5, 1991
ClassificationIndigenous and Tribal Peoples
SubjectIndigenous and Tribal Peoples
PreviousEmployment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment Convention, 1988
NextChemicals Convention, 1990

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 tribal peoples, and a forerunner of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It was established in 1989, with the preamble stating:[1]

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...


The convention is made of a Preamble, followed by forty-four articles, divided in ten parts. These are:[2]


This Convention revised Convention C107, the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957. Some of the nations ratifying the 1989 Convention "denounced" the 1957 Convention.[3]

Purpose and history

The ILO 169 convention is the most important operative international law guaranteeing the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. Its strength, however, is dependent on a high number of ratifications among nations.[4][5][6]

The revision to the Convention 107 forbade governments from pursuing approaches deemed integrationist and assimilationist.[7] It asserts the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples to choose to integrate or to maintain their cultural and political independence. 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.[8] 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.[9]


Countries that ratified the convention
Ratifications of Convention 169:[10]
Country Date Notes
Argentina Argentina 3 July 2000 ratified
Bolivia Bolivia 11 December 1991 ratified
Brazil Brazil 25 July 2002 ratified
Central African Republic Central African Republic 30 August 2010 ratified
Chile Chile 15 September 2008 ratified
Colombia Colombia 7 August 1991 ratified
Costa Rica Costa Rica 2 April 1993 ratified
Denmark Denmark 22 February 1996 ratified
Dominica Dominica 25 June 2002 ratified
Ecuador Ecuador 15 May 1998 ratified
Fiji Fiji 3 March 1998 ratified
Germany Germany 15 April 2021 ratified
Guatemala Guatemala 5 June 1996 ratified
Honduras Honduras 28 March 1995 ratified
Luxembourg Luxembourg 5 June 2018 ratified
Mexico Mexico 5 September 1990 ratified
Nepal Nepal 14 September 2007 ratified
Netherlands Netherlands 2 February 1998 ratified
Nicaragua Nicaragua 25 August 2010 ratified
Norway Norway 19 June 1990 ratified
Paraguay Paraguay 10 August 1993 ratified
Peru Peru 2 February 1994 ratified
Spain Spain 15 February 2007 ratified
Venezuela Venezuela 22 May 2002 ratified


  1. ^ ILO Convention C169
  2. ^ "C169 - Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169)". Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  3. ^ "C169 - Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169)". Part X. Final Provisions. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Survival International website – ILO 169 Archived October 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Bunn-Livingstone, Sandra (2002). Juricultural Pluralism Vis-a-Vis Treaty Law:State Practice and Attitudes. Springer. ISBN 90-411-1801-2.
  8. ^ "Chile's Supreme Court Upholds Indigenous Water Use Rights". The Santiago Times. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  9. ^ "Chile: Indigenous Protests on Several Fronts". IPS. 2009-10-07. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  10. ^ ILO (April 1, 2020). "Convention No. C169". Retrieved April 1, 2020.