Within the international legal framework for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, the ILO has adopted two legally binding international instruments that specifically address indigenous and tribal peoples:
Convention No. 107 is no longer open for ratification, but remains in force for 18 countries.
Convention No. 169 has been ratified by 20 countries. It covers a wide range of issues, including land rights, access to natural resources, health, education, vocational training, conditions of employment and contacts across borders. The fundamental principles of the Convention are that indigenous and tribal peoples should be consulted and fully participate at all levels of decision-making processes that concern them.
The ILO also adopted the Resolution on ILO Action Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in 1989, which outlines possible forms of action to be taken to promote the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.
With the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (pdf), the UN as a whole has taken a major step forward in the promotion and protection of indigenous and tribal peoples' rights throughout the world. The provisions of the Declaration and Convention No. 169 are compatible and mutually reinforcing. While the Declaration does not provide for specific mechanism to monitor its implementation, it provides for a specific role of UN agencies to support the realization of its provisions (Articles 41 and 42). In particular the ILO, as the agency responsible for the only legally binding international instrument on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, has an important role to play in this context.