Indigenous and tribal peoples

Indigenous and tribal peoples have their own cultures, ways of life, traditions and customary laws. But throughout history, lack of respect for these cultures has led to social conflict and bloodshed in far too many cases around the world. The ILO has been working with indigenous and tribal peoples since the 1920s. It is responsible for the only international instruments currently in force that deal exclusively with the rights of these peoples.

ILO work in the field of indigenous and tribal peoples falls mainly into two categories: adoption and supervision of standards; and assistance to indigenous and tribal peoples and to States. Today, the international community has accepted the principle that the cultures, ways of life, traditions and customary laws of indigenous and tribal peoples are valuable and need to be respected and protected, and that indigenous and tribal peoples should participate in decision-making processes in the countries in which they live.


  1. ILO Director-General speaks on Convention 169

  2. Actress Q'Orianka Kilcher speaks up, speaks out for Indigenous Peoples' Rights