Nepal ratifies ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples' Rights

Nepal becomes the first country in South Asia to ratify the Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (No.169) adopted by the ILO in 1989.

Press release | KATHMANDU | 19 September 2007

KATHMANDU(ILO news) – The Legislative Parliament of Nepal has approved the ratification of the Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (No.169) adopted by the ILO in 1989. Nepal thus becomes the first country in South Asia to ratify this Convention and the only second country in all ofAsiato do so.

Convention No. 169 was ratified by the Parliament on the 22nd of August and formally submitted to the ILO on 5th September 2007 by the Minister for Local Development Dev P. Gurung. This move brings the total number of ILO Conventions ratified by Nepal to 11. This includes seven of the eight ILO Fundamental Conventions (which cover the key issues of discrimination, child labour, forced labour and freedom of association and collective bargaining).  The single outstanding ILO core labour standard, Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association, is currently under Cabinet review for ratification.

Convention No.169 supports the principle of self-management and guarantees the right of indigenous people to consultation and participation in issues relating to their own development. It guarantees their right to equal treatment and access to state services and also includes specific provisions for protecting and promoting indigenous and tribal peoples’ cultures and communities.  Among other aspects, it protects the right to practice traditional economies, to traditional land and resources and to use indigenous languages in education.

Convention No. 169 is the only legally binding instrument on indigenous peoples’ rights. In other countries where it has been ratified the Convention has served as a framework for constitutional and legal reforms leading towards the development of more equitable and inclusive societies. In Guatemala Convention No. 169 was instrumental in the peace accords that ended 30 years of civil war between indigenous groups and the government.

Nepal’s indigenous peoples, or janajatis, make up almost 40 per cent of the country’s population.  There are 59 recognized janajatis, each with its own language and cultural tradition. Despite their significance, janajati communities have been economically, socially and politically marginalized throughout Nepal ’s modern history.

“The ratification of ILO Convention No. 169 is an important step in the new dialogue that has emerged between the state and the janajatis of Nepal after many years of conflict and neglect. One of the main challenges facing Nepal today is the development of an inclusive state that is responsive to the diverse aspirations of the many different communities and ethnic groups in the country.  Convention No. 169 will serve as an important framework for the discussions in the forthcoming Constituent Assembly.  The ILO is keen to support this historic reform process and looks forward to a fruitful cooperation with the janajati and non-janajati communities and the Nepali government in implementing the Convention,” said Shengjie Li, Director of the ILO Office in Nepal .

For further information contact:

Mr. Shengjie Li, Director, 
ILO Office in Nepal
Ttelephone : 5542129, 5551082