Indigenous peoples

Opening address at the High-level Meeting on the Ratification of ILO C169 or Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the High-level Meeting on the Ratification of ILO C169 or Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, Makati, Philippines, 25 July 2018

Statement | Makati, Philippines | 25 July 2018
  • Assistant Secretary Cruzada, representing Cabinet Secretary Evasco;
  • Assistant Secretary Benavidez, representing DOLE Secretary Bello;
  • Representatives from various government agencies
  • Our partners and advocates from CORE 169 network;
  • Officials from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples;
  • Indigenous peoples leaders and representatives;
  • Mr Oelz, my colleague from ILO Geneva;
  • Speakers and facilitators;
  • Partners from the civil society and advocates for indigenous peoples;
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!
At the onset, let me acknowledge the initiative and commitment of partners and advocates under the umbrella of CORE 169. The ILO is pleased to collaborate with the CORE 169 to promote and to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

The CORE 169 just concluded a series of regional consultations in Davao and Butuan covering indigenous peoples in Mindanao; and, this week, in Manila for indigenous peoples in Luzon. These consultations are part of the continued and tireless journey to promote ILO Convention 169, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Convention of 1989 since its adoption.

These efforts were undertaken in the context of promoting and protecting the rights of cultural communities in the Philippines, which included the successful campaign that led to the enactment of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Action (IPRA) in 1997.

The Cabinet Secretary has also undertaken similar efforts by organizing the Indigenous Peoples Summit this year.

Let me take this opportunity to provide a brief background on ILO Convention 169.

ILO Convention 169, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention was adopted in 1989. This Convention is one of the results of ILO’s work involving indigenous peoples since the 1920s. It is the only international legally binding treaty that promotes and protects the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples as a single subject.

It reflects consensus among tripartite constituents – covering governments, employers and workers - on the minimum standards specifically addressing indigenous peoples.

The Convention requires ratification of a member State to bind itself and to apply its provisions. The Philippines has not yet ratified the convention to date.

ILO Convention 169
complements two other policy instruments, namely: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) or Republic Act No. 8371.

of 2007 supplements, reinforces and reaffirms the principles of ILO C. 169. At the same time, ILO C 169 and UNDRIP are different instruments in terms of legal nature, institutional context, content and time of adoption.

At the national level, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 is the primary enabling legislation for the Constitutional mandate for the recognition and protection of the rights of the indigenous peoples.

IPRA substantially incorporates and contains the minimum standards and principles of the ILO Convention 169 and UNDRIP.

Let me also mention that the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is also a milestone to address challenges faced by indigenous peoples, ensuring that they are not left behind.

The ILO can play a role, through the promotion of ILO C. 169 and the Decent Work paradigm, which can help mitigate social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities of indigenous peoples. We believe that indigenous peoples are key drivers towards achieving sustainable, inclusive and greener growth.

Once ILO Convention 169 is ratified by the Philippines, it will complement the principles and policies enshrined in the IPRA and help facilitate national and international support for its implementation.

It is another step to strengthen the sustainability of the Philippines’ legal framework on indigenous peoples, coming from 110 ethno linguistic groups who mostly experience many and diverse challenges.
I am pleased to note that the CORE 169 network and indigenous peoples in the Philippines have taken ownership in advocating and continuing the campaign for C169 ratification. Such initiative is consistent with the principles of consultation and engagement of indigenous and tribal peoples, as enshrined in the ILO’s Convention and restated in UNDRIP. This is the foundation of our partnership.

The ILO conveys its solidarity with these efforts. The ILO Manila has mobilized the support of our colleague from headquarters in Geneva, Mr Martin Oelz, a Senior Specialist on Equality and Non-discrimination. It will be an opportunity for you to have a dialogue and to further seek clarification on the Convention.

Enhancing the relevance of international labour standards, including ILO C169 and consolidating consensus is part of the ILO Centenary initiatives. Yes, the ILO will celebrate its 100 years in 2019.
We look forward to the continued support and participation of indigenous peoples and the CORE 169 as we mark our Centenary next year.

We also echo the indigenous peoples’ call for expansion of the network of support, for more partners, especially our high level government representatives, to join the campaign.

The campaign is a component of the indigenous peoples’ agenda that is currently being updated. The full application of this ILO Convention 169 not only reflects indigenous peoples’ rights but also their development aspirations, including their desire to achieve decent work.

Today’ dialogue gives an opportunity to assess and to reflect on the benefits of the Convention as well as to address concerns related to its ratification.

Through collaboration, we can map a way forward to address any challenges.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the CORE 169 network for organizing today’s activity and bringing you all together to this high level meeting.

I wish you success and I look forward to a fruitful discussion. Thank you and Mabuhay!