DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES.
OF PREPARATION, REGIONAL
CONSULTATION AND PROPOSAL OF
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
At its 95th Regular Session, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights approved the proposed American Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples, pursuant to a recommendation of the General
Assembly to that end (AG/RES. 1022 (XIX-0/89).
This proposal includes suggestions and comments from the
governments, indigenous and intergovernmental organizations, experts,
and special meetings of consultation that were held between October of
1995 and February of 1997, based on a draft consultation approved by
the IACHR at its 90th Regular Session.
It takes also in account the work being done by the United
Nations (AG/RES. 1404 (XXVI-O/96).
As specified in Recommendation 8 of Chapter VII in this Annual
Report, this proposal is being submitted to the General Assembly and
to its Permanent Council,
and it is being made public by the Commission so that it can be
considered at the next General Assembly and, in detail, by the
governments, peoples and interested organizations, so that it can be
approved by the member countries at the 1998 General Assembly, in
commemoration of the Organization's 50th anniversary.
In October of 1995, the Commission embarked on a broad round of
consultations concerning the
questionnaire which it had drawn up and approved at that time, based
on previous consultations, national constitutions and legislation,
international instruments and statements on this subject.
The questionnaire was widely circulated to governments and to
hundreds of indigenous organizations, experts and other entities which
were asked to present their comments.
The text was also disseminated by news media.
A number of different mechanisms were used for the purpose of this consultation: a) direct consultation by correspondence, as noted above; b) presentation and discussion of the questionnaire at specialized technical meetings; c) consultation of indigenous population at a national and multinational level; and d) regional meetings.
The draft was presented and examined at various technical
meetings: in Arequipa, Peru, at the "First World Meeting of
Indigenous Peoples" which was organized by the World Council of
Indigenous Peoples in October of 1955; in Ottawa at the "Widening
the Circle" on February 27, 1996, meeting organized by FOCAL, the
University of Ottawa and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples,
attended by more than 100 delegates from the entire Hemisphere; in
Guatemala City, organized by the Inter-American Institute of Human
Rights in March of 1996; at the General Kuna Congress in Ogubscun,
Panama, in 1996; and at the 1996 Sovereignty Symposium, held in Tulsa,
NATIONAL AND REGIONAL CONSULTATIONS
For the national and regional consultations, the IACHR acted as
coordinator, with assistance from the Inter-American Indian Institute;
the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy; the Inter-American Institute
of Human Rights; and the Inter-American Fund for the Development of
Indigenous Peoples (whose headquarters are in Bolivia) and with
cooperation from the Inter-American Development Bank.
The following national consultations were held:
ORIANA (The Andean Indigenous Regional Organization of Northern
participants consisted of fourteen delegates, who represented the
country's eighteen indigenous peoples.
Held in Buenos Aires, from October 20 through October 23, 1996.
Two parallel consultations took place.
I. Organizations Responsible: CIDOB (Organizations of the
Lowlands) and SUTCB (Organizations of the Highlands).
They were sponsored by the National Secretariat on Ethnic
Matters, which published the IACHR Draft Survey in newspapers to
ensure the widest possible dissemination.
The results of the consultation were endorsed by the National
Nationwide. Two workshops
were held, one in the city of Santa Cruz for the Oriente, Chaco and
Amazonia region and the other in Oruro for the Andean region.
II. Organization Responsible: the Indigenous Parliament of
Bolivia (the Honorable
Chamber of Deputies).
The consultation was attended by ten indigenous deputies to the
National Parliament of Bolivia.
Organization Responsible: CAPOIB (Joint Council of Indigenous
Peoples and Organizations in Brazil).
Coverage: Nationwide. The
participants included directors of the organizations most directly
involved in COIAB, COR, UNI, AC and CAPOIB, in addition to the legal
counsel of the two last-named. Held in Brasilia in October of 1996.
Organization Responsible: ONIC (National Indigenous
Organization of Colombia).
Nationwide. Held in
Bogota in October of 1996.
Took place in San Jose, on 11-14 December, 1996, organized by
the "National Indigenous Round Table" -affiliated with CICA. In the process two regional meetings, two national meetings
and some local meetings were completed.
Organization Responsible: The representative of the indigenous
peoples of Chile to the Fund. Coverage:
Two consultations were held, one among the Aymaras peoples and the
other among the Atacameño (in the northern part of Chile).
Organization Responsible: the Secretariat of Ethnic Affairs and
a commission, consisting of an equal number of representatives from
the indigenous and the Afro-Ecuadorian peoples.
Coverage: Nationwide. A
three-day national seminar was held in Quito from October 7 through
October 9, 1996.
A Workshop Seminar was organized by the "Indigenous Round
Table" of El Salvador, with Indian representatives from all the
country, in December 1996.
Held in "Ruinas de Copán" on November 9 and 10, 1996
by the Confederation of Auctochtonous Peoples of Honduras CONPAH, with
approximately 100 delegates from the Miskito, Garifuna, Pech,
Talupanes O-Xroquaz, Incas, Black anglophones, and Chortis.
Direct consultations and a Workshop Seminar in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca,
on December 7 and 8, 1996, with 19 delegates of 15 national and
Organization Responsible: COONAPIP (National Coordination
Office for the Indigenous Peoples of Panama).
Coverage: Nationwide, representing the Ngobe-Bugle, the Kuna of
Mandugandi, the Embera Wounan and the Kuna Takarkunyala.
Organizations responsible: Fifteen indigenous organizations of
Paraguay. Coverage: Nationwide. The
participants were the heads of the 15 organizations.
The meeting took place in the city of Benjamin Aceval, on
November 15, 1996.
Organizations Responsible: UNCA (Union of Aymara Communities)
and CAH (the Aguaruna Huambisa Council).
Coverage: Nationwide. Six
national agencies were convened (AIDESEP, CONAP, CNA, CCP, COICAP, and
the Andean Council of Coca Leaf Producers) along with regional
organizations from the whole country. The participants were 26
national-level leaders. The
seminar was held in Lima, in November of 1996.
CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
In addition to the presentation at the various technical
meetings cited above, answers were received from centers that
represent indigenous rights, and a meeting was sponsored by the Center
for Energy Resources Tribes (U.S.A.) and the International
Organization of Indigenous Resources Development (IORD) and the Grand
Council of the Crees (Canada) was held in Denver, Colorado, at which a
revised text was prepared with the help of representatives of 140
indigenous peoples of North America.
This version was then approved by acclamation by the Grand
Council of the Crees and the Hobemas, and thereafter presented at the
Conference on Amerindian peoples organized by UNESCO in Paris, in June
Consejo Nacional de Centro América (CICA). Meeting in Guatemala City, on October 18, 1996.
Coordinadora de Pueblos Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (COICA). Held a special meeting on October 1-4, 1996 in Quito, with 11
representatives of CONFENIAE (Ecuador), OPIAC (Colombia), COIAB
(Brazil), APA (Guyana), OIS (Suriname) and COICA (Peru).
The regional meetings for South America in Quito,
Ecuador; and those for Central America and the Caribbean, in Guatemala
City were held in November of 1996.
The delegates of the national consultations and other experts and
representatives of governments presented the results of their surveys
and discussed the preparation procedures.
Meeting for Central America and the Caribbean
Site: the Central American Parliament in Guatemala City,
November 14-16, 1996. Government
sponsor: the Ministry of
Culture and Sports. Participants:
67 persons, 28 of whom were representatives of indigenous
organizations in Guatemala; 17 were representatives of indigenous
organizations in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Belize and
Suriname; 6 represented the Governments of Belize, Canada, Guatemala
and Mexico; and 16 were representatives and/or experts from Minugua,
Flacso, the UNDP, the I.I.I., the IIDH and the Central American
from the IACHR, the I.I.I., the UPD, the Indigenous Fund, and
Guatemala's Ministry of Culture and Sports also took part.
Regional Meeting of Consultation for South America
Site: Hotel Quito, in Quito, Ecuador.
November 21-23, 1996. Government
Sponsor: the Secretariat
of Ethnic Affairs at the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs. Participants:
165 in number, 77 of whom were indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorean
representatives and 20 were indigenous representatives from Argentina,
Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru; 19 were diplomatic and
technical representatives accredited to the meeting by the Governments
of Argentina, Bolivia (the Undersecretary of Technical Affairs),
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay; and four were
executive staff of regional organizations (COICA, the World Council on
Indigenous Peoples and the IIDH).
Officials from the IACHR, the UPD and the I.I.I. also took
In Mexico City in December, the Inter-American Indigenous
Institute held the First Indigenous Forum of the Americas, in
the presence of eighteen indigenous leaders from the region.
The Forum's main objective was to discuss the inter-American
instrument on indigenous rights.
The Forum supported the initiative and recommended that the
range of consultation be broadened.
COMMENTS FROM GOVERNMENTS
Comments were received from the Governments of Argentina,
Brazil, Canada, the United States, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, and
Venezuela. The Government of Bolivia endorsed the observations of the
COMMENTS FROM INSTITUTIONS AND EXPERTS
Responses and comments were also received from the
International Labor Organization (ILO) and from the United Nations
Mission in Guatemala (Minugua). Also
from the Indian Law Resource Center (USA); the Inter-American
Dialogue, the Child Rights International Research Institute, the
International Indian Treaty Council (US), of Hutchins, Soroka, Dionne
(Ottawa, Canada). From
experts: Augusto Willemsen Díaz (of Guatemala), Aureliano Turpo
Choquehuanca (World Council on Indigenous Peoples), Professor Fernand
de Varennes (Murdoch University, Australia); Prof. Joe Palacio (UWI,
Belice), and Hugo Mondragón (Colombia).
IACHR TECHNICAL REVIEW MEETING
Taking into account all of the responses and conclusions of the
meetings, in January of 1997, the IACHR held a Technical Meeting
to review the draft text of the questionnaire and to propose a revised
version, for consideration by the IACHR at its 95th Regular Session.
The participants at the meeting included rapporteur members Dr.
Carlos Ayala Corao and Ambassador John Donaldson, and the contract
experts Dr. Magdalena Gómez Rivera (Director of Legal Prosecution at
the National Indigenous Institute of Mexico); Dr. Patrick Robinson (a
former member of the Commission and rapporteur on the topic); and
Wilton Littlechild, Q.C. (indigenous lawyer and member of the Canadian
Parliament), with the collaboration of IACHR principal specialist
lawyer, Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer.
THE COMMISSION'S PROPOSAL
The Commission approved the text which is transcribed as the
proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to
be presented to the General Assembly in response to the recommendation
contained in resolution AG/RES. 1022 (XIX-O/89).
The IACHR also proposes that the General Assembly, when it
considers the Declaration at its June 1997 meeting, conduct the
consultations and adopt the measures necessary to approve the
declaration at its annual session in 1998, to commemorate the 50th
Anniversary of the Organization.
PROPOSED AMERICAN DECLARATION ON THE
RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on February 26,
1997, at its 1333rd session, 95th Regular Session)
Indigenous institutions and the strengthening of nations
The member states of the OAS (hereafter the states),
Recalling that the indigenous peoples of the Americas
constitute an organized, distinctive and integral segment of their
population and are entitled to be part of the national identities of
the countries of the Americas, and have a special role to play in
strengthening the institutions of the state and in establishing
national unity based on democratic principles; and,
Further recalling that some of the democratic institutions and
concepts embodied in the constitutions of American states originate
from institutions of the indigenous peoples, and that in many
instances their present participatory systems for decision-making and
for authority contribute to improving democracies in the Americas.
Recalling the need to develop their national juridical systems
to consolidate the pluricultural nature of our societies.
Eradication of poverty and the right to development
Concerned about the frequent deprivation afflicting indigenous
peoples of their human rights and fundamental freedoms; within and
outside their communities, as well as the dispossession of their
lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from
exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance
with their own traditions, needs and interests.
Recognizing the severe impoverishment afflicting indigenous
peoples in several regions of the Hemisphere and that their living
conditions are generally deplorable.
And recalling that in the Declaration of Principles issued by
the Summit of the Americas in December 1994, the heads of state and
governments declared that in observance of the International Decade of
the World's Indigenous People, they will focus their energies on
improving the exercise of democratic rights and the access to social
services by indigenous peoples and their communities.
Indigenous culture and ecology
Recognizing the respect for the environment accorded by the
cultures of indigenous peoples of the Americas, and considering the
special relationship between the indigenous peoples and the
environment, lands, resources and territories on which they live and
their natural resources.
Harmonious relations, respect and the absence of
Reaffirming the responsibility of all states and peoples of the
Americas to end racism and racial discrimination, with a view to
establishing harmonious relations and respect among all peoples.
and indigenous survival
Recognizing that in many indigenous cultures, traditional
collective systems for control and use of land, territory and
resources, including bodies of water and coastal areas, are a
necessary condition for their survival, social organization,
development and their individual and collective well-being; and that
the form of such control and ownership is varied and distinctive and
does not necessarily coincide with the systems protected by the
domestic laws of the states in which they live.
Security and indigenous areas
Reaffirming that the armed forces in indigenous areas shall
restrict themselves to the performance of their functions and shall
not be the cause of abuses or violations of the rights of indigenous
Human rights instruments and other advances in international
Recognizing the paramouncy and applicability to the states and
peoples of the Americas of the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights and other human
rights instruments of inter-American and international law; and
Recognizing that indigenous peoples are a subject of
international law, and mindful of the progress achieved by the states
and indigenous organizations, especially in the sphere of the United
Nations and the International Labor Organization, in several
international instruments, particularly in the ILO Convention 169.
Affirming the principle of the universality and indivisibility
of human rights, and the application of international human rights to
Enjoyment of Collective Rights
Recalling the international recognition of rights that can only
be enjoyed when exercised collectively.
Advances in the provisions of national instruments
Noting the constitutional, legislative and jurisprudential
advances achieved in the
Americas in guaranteeing the rights and institutions of indigenous
SECTION ONE. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
This Declaration applies to indigenous peoples as well as
peoples whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish
them from other sections of the national community, and whose status
is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or
by special laws or regulations.
Self identification as indigenous shall be regarded as a
fundamental criterion for determining the peoples to which the
provisions of this Declaration apply.
The use of the term "peoples" in this Instrument
shall not be construed as having any implication with respect to any
other rights that might be attached to that term in international law.
SECTION TWO. HUMAN
Full observance of human rights
Indigenous peoples have the right to the full and effective
enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized in
the Charter of the OAS, the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, and other
international human rights law; and nothing in this Declaration shall
be construed as in any way limiting or denying those rights or
authorizing any action not in accordance with the instruments of
international law including human rights law.
Indigenous peoples have the collective rights that are
indispensable to the enjoyment of the individual human rights
of their members. Accordingly
the states recognize inter alia the right of the indigenous
peoples to collective action, to their cultures, to profess and
practice their spiritual beliefs, and to use their languages.
The states shall ensure for indigenous peoples the full
exercise of all rights, and shall adopt in accordance with their
constitutional processes such legislative or other measures as may
be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in this
Right to belong to indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples and communities have the right to belong to
indigenous peoples, in accordance with the traditions and customs of
the peoples or nation concerned.
Legal status of communities
Indigenous peoples have the right to have their legal
personality fully recognized by the states within their systems.
No forced assimilation
Indigenous peoples have the right to freely preserve, express
and develop their cultural identity in all its aspects, free of any
attempt at assimilation.
The states shall not undertake, support or favour any policy of
artificial or enforced assimilation of indigenous peoples, destruction
of a culture or the possibility of the extermination of any indigenous
Special guarantees against discrimination
Indigenous peoples have the right to special guarantees against
discrimination that may have to be instituted to fully enjoy
internationally and nationally‑recognized human rights; as well
as measures necessary to enable indigenous women, men and children to
exercise, without any discrimination, civil, political, economic,
social, cultural and spiritual rights.
The states recognize that violence exerted against persons
because of their gender and age prevents and nullifies the exercise of
Indigenous peoples have the right to fully participate in the
prescription of such guarantees.
SECTION THREE. CULTURAL
Right to Cultural integrity
Indigenous peoples have the right to their cultural integrity,
and their historical and archeological heritage, which are important
both for their survival as well as for the identity of their members.
Indigenous peoples are entitled to restitution in respect of
the property of which they have been dispossessed, and where that is
not possible, compensation on a basis not less favorable than the
standard of international law.
The states shall recognize and respect indigenous ways of life,
customs, traditions, forms of social, economic and political
organization, institutions, practices, beliefs and values, use of
dress, and languages.
Article VIII. Philosophy,
outlook and language
Indigenous peoples have the right to indigenous languages,
philosophy and outlook as a component of national and universal
culture, and as such, shall respect them and facilitate their
The states shall take measures and ensure that broadcast radio
and television programs are broadcast in the indigenous languages in
the regions where there is a strong indigenous presence, and to
support the creation of indigenous radio stations and other media.
The states shall take effective measures to enable indigenous
peoples to understand administrative, legal and political rules and
procedures, and to be understood in relation to these matters. In
areas where indigenous languages are predominant, states shall
endeavor to establish the pertinent languages as official languages
and to give them the same status that is given to non‑indigenous
Indigenous peoples have the right to use their indigenous
names, and to have the states recognize them as such.
Indigenous peoples shall be entitled: a) to establish and set
in motion their own educational programs, institutions and facilities;
b) to prepare and implement their own educational plans, programs,
curricula and materials; c) to train, educate and accredit their
teachers and administrators. The
states shall endeavor to ensure that such systems guarantee equal
educational and teaching opportunities for the entire population and
complementarity with national educational systems.
When indigenous peoples so decide, educational systems shall be
conducted in the indigenous languages and incorporate indigenous
content, and they shall also be provided with the necessary training
and means for complete mastery of the official language or languages.
The states shall ensure that those educational systems are
equal in quality, efficiency, accessibility and in all other ways to
that provided to the general population.
The states shall take measures to guarantee to the members of
indigenous peoples the possibility to obtain education at all levels,
at least of equal quality with the general population.
The states shall include in their general educational systems,
content reflecting the pluricultural nature of their societies.
The states shall provide financial and any other type of
assistance needed for the implementation of the provisions of this
Spiritual and religious freedom
Indigenous peoples have the right to freedom of conscience,
freedom of religion and spiritual practice, and to exercise them both
publicly and privately.
The states shall take necessary measures to prohibit attempts
to forcibly convert indigenous peoples or to impose on them
beliefs against their will.
In collaboration with the indigenous peoples concerned, the
states shall adopt effective measures to ensure that their sacred
sites, including burial sites, are preserved, respected and protected.
When sacred graves and relics have been appropriated by state
institutions, they shall be returned.
states shall encourage respect by all people for the integrity of
indigenous spiritual symbols, practices, sacred ceremonies,
expressions and protocols.
Family relations and family ties
The family is the natural and basic unit of societies and must
be respected and protected by the state.
Consequently the state shall recognize and respect the various
forms of indigenous family, marriage, family name and filiation.
In determining the child's best interest in matters relating to
the protection and adoption of children of members of indigenous
peoples, and in matters of breaking of ties and other similar
circumstances, consideration shall be given by courts and other
relevant institutions to the views of the peoples, including
individual, family and community views.
Health and well-being
Indigenous peoples have the right to legal recognition and
practice of their traditional medicine, treatment, pharmacology,
health practices and promotion, including preventive and
Indigenous peoples have the right to the protection of vital
medicinal plants, animal and mineral in their traditional territories.
Indigenous peoples shall be entitled to use, maintain, develop
and manage their own health services, and they shall also have access,
on an equal basis, to all health institutions and services and medical
care accessible to the general population.
The states shall provide the necessary means to enable the
indigenous peoples to eliminate such health conditions in their
communities which fall below international accepted standards for the
Article XIII. Right
to environmental protection
Indigenous peoples have the right to a safe and healthy
environment, which is an essential condition for the enjoyment of the
right to life and collective well-being.
Indigenous peoples have the right to be informed of measures
which will affect their environment, including information that
ensures their effective participation in actions and policies that
might affect it.
Indigenous peoples shall have the right to conserve, restore
and protect their environment, and the productive capacity of their
lands, territories and resources.
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate fully in
formulating, planning, managing and applying governmental programmes
of conservation of their lands, territories and resources.
Indigenous peoples have the right to assistance from their
states for purposes of environmental protection, and may receive
assistance from international organizations.
The states shall prohibit and punish, and shall impede jointly
with the indigenous peoples, the introduction, abandonment, or deposit
of radioactive materials or residues, toxic substances and garbage in
contravention of legal provisions; as well as the production,
introduction, transportation, possession or use of chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons in indigenous areas.
When a state declares an indigenous territory as protected
area, any lands, territories and resources under potential or actual
claim by indigenous peoples, conservation areas shall not be subject
to any natural resource
development without the informed consent and participation of the
SECTION FOUR. ORGANIZATIONAL
AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
Article XIV. Rights
of association, assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of thought
Indigenous peoples have the right of association, assembly and
expression in accordance with their values, usages, customs, ancestral
traditions, beliefs and religions.
Indigenous peoples have the right of assembly and to the use of
their sacred and ceremonial areas, as well as the right to full
contact and common activities with their members living in the
territory of neighboring states.
Right to self government
Indigenous peoples have the right to freely determine their
political status and freely pursue their economic, social, spiritual
and cultural development, and accordingly, they have the right to
autonomy or self-government with regard to inter alia culture,
religion, education, information, media, health, housing, employment,
social welfare, economic activities, land and resource management, the
environment and entry by nonmembers; and to determine ways and means
for financing these autonomous functions.
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate without
discrimination, if they so decide, in all decision-making, at all
levels, with regard to matters that might affect their rights, lives
and destiny. They may do
so directly or through representatives chosen by them in accordance
with their own procedures. They
shall also have the right to maintain and develop their own indigenous
decision-making institutions, as well as equal opportunities to access
and participate in all state institutions and fora.
Article XVI. Indigenous
Indigenous law shall be recognized as a part of the states'
legal system and of the framework in which the social and economic
development of the states takes place.
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and reinforce
their indigenous legal systems and also to apply them to matters
within their communities, including systems related to such
matters as conflict resolution, crime prevention and
maintenance of peace and
In the jurisdiction of any state, procedures concerning
indigenous peoples or their interests shall be conducted in such a way
as to ensure the right of indigenous peoples to full representation
with dignity and equality before the law.
This shall include observance of indigenous law and custom and,
where necessary, use of their language.
Article XVII. National
incorporation of indigenous legal and organizational systems
The states shall facilitate the inclusion in their
organizational structures, the institutions and traditional practices
of indigenous peoples, and
in consultation and with consent of the
State institutions relevant to and serving indigenous peoples
shall be designed in consultation and with the participation of the
peoples concerned so as to reinforce and promote the identity,
cultures, traditions, organization and values of those peoples.
SECTION FIVE. SOCIAL,
ECONOMIC AND PROPERTY RIGHTS
Article XVIII. Traditional
forms of ownership and cultural survival.
Rights to land, territories and resources
Indigenous peoples have the right to the legal recognition of
their varied and specific forms and modalities of their control,
ownership, use and enjoyment of territories and property.
Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition of their
property and ownership rights with respect to lands, territories and
resources they have
historically occupied, as well as to the use of those to which they
have historically had access for their traditional activities and
Subject to 3.ii.), where property and user rights of indigenous
peoples arise from rights existing prior to the creation of those
states, the states shall recognize the titles of indigenous peoples
relative thereto as permanent, exclusive, inalienable, imprescriptible
Such titles may only be changed by mutual consent between the
state and respective indigenous peoples when they have full knowledge
and appreciation of the nature or attributes of such property.
Nothing in 3.i.) shall be construed as limiting the right of
indigenous peoples to attribute ownership within the community in
accordance with their customs, traditions, uses and traditional
practices, nor shall it affect any collective community rights over
Indigenous peoples have the right
to an effective legal framework for the protection of their
rights with respect to the natural resources on their lands, including
the ability to use, manage, and conserve such resources; and with
respect to traditional uses of their lands, interests in lands, and
resources, such as subsistence.
In the event that ownership of the minerals or resources of the
subsoil pertains to the state or that the state has rights over other
resources on the lands, the governments must establish or maintain
procedures for the participation of the peoples concerned in
determining whether the interests of these people would be adversely
affected and to what extent, before undertaking or authorizing any
program for planning, prospecting or exploiting existing resources on
their lands. The peoples
concerned shall participate in the benefits of such activities, and
shall receive compensation, on a basis not less favorable than the
standard of international law for any loss which they may sustain as a
result of such activities.
Unless exceptional and justified circumstances so warrant in
the public interest, the states shall not transfer or relocate
indigenous peoples without the free, genuine, public and informed
consent of those peoples, but in all cases with prior compensation and
prompt replacement of lands taken, which must be of similar or better
quality and which must have the same legal status; and with guarantee
of the right to return if the causes that gave rise to the
displacement cease to exist.
Indigenous peoples have the right to the restitution of the
lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned
or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated,
occupied, used or damaged, or when restitution is not possible, the
right to compensation on a basis not less favorable than the standard
of international law .
The states shall take all measures, including the use of law
enforcement mechanisms, to avert, prevent and punish, if applicable,
any intrusion or use of those lands by unauthorized persons to take
possession or make use of them. The states shall give maximum priority
to the demarcation and recognition of properties and areas of
Article XIX. Workers
Indigenous peoples shall have the right to full enjoyment of
the rights and guarantees recognized under international labor law and
domestic labor law; they
shall also have the right to special measures to correct, redress and
prevent the discrimination to which they have historically been
To the extent that they are not effectively protected
by laws applicable to workers in general, the states shall take
such special measures as may be necessary to:
effectively protect the workers and employees who are members
of indigenous communities in respect of fair and equal hiring and
terms of employment;
to improve the labor inspection and enforcement service in
regions, companies or paid activities involving indigenous workers or
ensure that indigenous workers:
enjoy equal opportunity and treatment as regards all conditions
of employment, job promotion and advancement; and other conditions as
stipulated under international law;
enjoy the right to association and freedom for all lawful trade
union activities, and the right to conclude collective agreements with
employers or employers' organizations;
are not subjected to racial, sexual or other forms of
are not subjected to coercive hiring practices, including
servitude for debts or any other form of servitude, even if they have
their origin in law, custom or a personal or collective arrangement,
which shall be deemed absolutely null and void in each instance;
are not subjected to working conditions that endanger their
health and safety;
receive special protection when they serve as seasonal, casual
or migrant workers and also when they are hired by labor contractors
in order that they benefit from national legislation and practice
which must itself be in accordance with established international
human rights standards in respect of this type of workers, and,
as well as their
employers are made fully aware of the rights of indigenous workers,
under such national legislation and international standards, and of
the recourses available to them in order to protect those rights.
Intellectual property rights
Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition and the
full ownership, control and protection of their cultural, artistic,
spiritual, technological and scientific heritage, and legal protection
for their intellectual property through trademarks, patents,
copyright and other such procedures as established under
domestic law; as well as
to special measures to ensure them legal status and institutional
capacity to develop, use, share, market and bequeath that heritage to
Indigenous peoples have the right to control, develop and
protect their sciences and technologies, including their human and
genetic resources in general, seed, medicine, knowledge of plant and
animal life, original designs and procedure.
The states shall take appropriate measures to ensure
participation of the indigenous peoples in the determination of the
conditions for the utilization, both
public and private, of the rights listed in the previous
paragraphs 1. and 2.
Article XXI. Right
The states recognize the right of indigenous peoples to decide
democratically what values, objectives, priorities and strategies
will govern and steer their development course, even where they
are different from those adopted by the national government or by
other segments of society. Indigenous
peoples shall be entitled to obtain on a non-discriminatory basis
appropriate means for their own development according to their
preferences and values, and to contribute by their own means, as
distinct societies, to national development and international
Unless exceptional circumstances so warrant in the public
interest, the states shall take necessary measures to ensure that
decisions regarding any plan, program or proposal affecting the rights
or living conditions of indigenous peoples are not made without the
free and informed consent and participation of those peoples, that
their preferences are recognized and that no such plan, program or
proposal that could have harmful effects on those peoples is adopted.
Indigenous peoples have the right to restitution or compensation
no less favorable than the standards of international law, for any loss
which, despite the foregoing precautions, the execution of those plans
or proposals may have caused them; and measures taken to mitigate
adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
SECTION SIX. GENERAL
Article XXII. Treaties,
Acts, agreements and constructive arrangements
Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance
and enforcement of treaties, agreements and constructive arrangements, that may have been concluded with states or their successors,
as well as historical Acts in that respect, according to their spirit
and intent, and to have states honor and respect such treaties,
agreements and constructive arrangements as well as the rights emanating
from those historical instruments.
Conflicts and disputes which cannot otherwise be settled should
be submitted to competent bodies.
Nothing in this instrument shall be construed as diminishing or
extinguishing existing or future rights indigenous peoples may have or
The rights recognized herein constitute the minimum standards for
the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the
Nothing in this instrument shall be construed as granting any
rights to ignore boundaries between states.
Nothing in this Declaration may be construed as permitting any
activity contrary to the purposes and principles of the OAS, including
sovereign equality, territorial integrity and political independence of
The Organization of American States and its organs, organisms and
entities, in particular the Inter-American Indian Institute and the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights shall promote respect for and
full application of the provisions in this Declaration.