Convention 169 and International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

C169 – Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989

We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism.
Rigoberta Menchu Tum
…all human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity…
Declaration of Philadelphia, 1944



ILO’s longstanding engagement with the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples led to the adoption in 1957 of the first international instrument entirely devoted to indigenous and tribal peoples’ rights − the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention (Convention No. 107). In the 1980s the Convention was revised and replaced in 1989 by the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, (Convention No. 169).

Convention No. 169 is based on the recognition of indigenous and tribal peoples’ aspirations 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. The principles of participation and consultation are the cornerstone of the Convention.

Convention No. 169 is the only international treaty open to ratification, which specifically provides protection for indigenous and tribal peoples. The Convention and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted in 2007 are mutually reinforcing instruments providing the framework for the universal protection of indigenous and tribal peoples’ rights.

Over the last fifteen years, the ILO has established the largest technical cooperation programme on indigenous peoples (PRO 169) within the UN System, with more than 20 full time staff working specifically on indigenous peoples’ issues in more than 25 countries across Latin America, Asia and Africa. The ILO plays a leading role in coordinating UN initiatives on indigenous peoples and is currently hosting the Technical Secretariat of the United Nations Indigenous Peoples’ Partnership (UNIPP), a rights-based initiative anchored on a Multi Donor Trust Fund, created in 2010 by the ILO), OHCHR), UNDP), UNICEF), and UNFPA) fore realisation of indigenous peoples’ rights at the country level.

C107 is no longer open for ratification, but remains in force for 17 countries. C169 entered into force on 5 September 1991. It is ratified by 22 countries to date.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, 9 August

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People was proclaimed by the UN in December 1994, to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. In 2004, a Second International Decade 2005 – 2015 was proclaimed with the theme of “A Decade for Action and Dignity.” In December 2010, the UN General Assembly decided to hold a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014.

Related ILO Conventions