DOCUMENTS FOR THE
DRAFT CONSULTATION FOR AN AMERICAN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS
PEOPLES SENT BY THE IACHR TO MEMBER STATES (1995) THE BASIS FOR
CUNSULTATIONS WITH NATIONAL AND REGIONAL INDIGENOUS GROUPS
Indigenous institutions and the strengthening of nations
states of the Organization of American States (hereafter the states),
the indigenous peoples of the Americas constitute an organized,
distinctive and integral segment of their population and are entitled to
be part of the countries' national identity, and have a special role to
play in strengthening the institutions of the state and in establishing
national unity based on democratic principles; and,
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 the internal authority of the
indigenous peoples contribute to improving democracies in the Americas.
Eradication of poverty
severe and widespread poverty afflicting indigenous peoples in many
regions of the Americas, and that their living conditions and social
services are generally deplorable; and concerned that indigenous peoples
have been deprived of their human rights and fundamental freedoms,
resulting inter alia in their colonization and the dispossession of
their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from
exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with
their own needs and interests.
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
Indigenous culture and ecology
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 land on which they live.
Harmonious relations, respect and the absence of discrimination
Mindful of the
responsibility of all the states and peoples of the Americas to
participate in the struggle against racism and racial discrimination.
Enjoyment of community rights
international recognition of rights that can only be enjoyed when
exercised in community with other members of a group.
Indigenous survival and control of their territories
Considering that in many indigenous cultures, traditional
collective systems for control and use of land and territory, 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.
Demilitarization of indigenous areas
presence of armed forces in many areas of the lands and territories of the
indigenous peoples, and emphasizing the importance of withdrawing them
from where they are not strictly needed for their specific functions.
Human rights instruments and other advances in international law
preeminence and applicability of the American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights and
international human rights law, to the states and peoples of the Americas;
Mindful of the
progress achieved by the states and indigenous organizations in codifying
indigenous rights, especially in the sphere of the United Nations and the
International Labor Organization, and in this regard recalling the ILO
Agreement 169 and the Draft UN Declaration on the subject.
principle of the universality and indivisibility of human rights, and the
application of international human rights to all individuals.
Advances in the provisions of national instruments
constitutional and legislative progresses achieved in some countries of
the Americas in guaranteeing the rights and institutions of indigenous
ONE. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
In this Declaration indigenous peoples are those who embody
historical continuity with societies which existed prior to the conquest
and settlement of their territories by Europeans.
(Alternative I) [, as well as peoples brought involuntarily to the
New World who freed themselves and re-established the cultures from which
they have been torn]. (Alternative
2) [, as well as tribal 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 or tribal shall be regarded as a
fundamental criterion for determining the groups 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.
TWO. HUMAN RIGHTS
II. Full observance of human
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 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
The states shall ensure for all indigenous peoples the full
exercise of their rights.
The states also recognize that the indigenous peoples are entitled
to collective rights insofar as they are indispensable to the enjoyment of
the individual human rights of their members.
Accordingly they recognize the right of the indigenous peoples to
collective action, to their cultures, to profess and practice their
spiritual beliefs and to use their languages.
III. Right to belong to an indigenous community or nation
peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous
community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the
community or nation concerned. No
disadvantage of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right.
IV. Legal status of communities
shall ensure that within their legal system personality is attributed to
communities of indigenous peoples.
V. No forced assimilation
shall not take any action which forces indigenous peoples to assimilate
and shall not endorse any theory, or engage in any practice, that imports
discrimination, destruction of a culture or the possibility of the
extermination of any ethnic group.
VI. Special guarantees against discrimination
The states recognize that, where circumstances so warrant, special
guarantees against discrimination may have to be instituted to enable
indigenous peoples to fully enjoy internationally and
nationally‑recognized human rights; and that indigenous peoples must
participate fully in the prescription of such guarantees.
The states shall also take the measures necessary to enable both
indigenous women and men to exercise, without any discrimination, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights.
The states recognize that violence exerted against persons because
of their gender prevents and nullifies the exercise of those rights.
THREE. CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
VII. Right to cultural integrity
States shall respect the cultural integrity of indigenous peoples,
their development in their respective habitats and their historical and
archeological heritage, which are important to the identity of the members
of their groups and their ethnic survival.
Indigenous peoples are entitled to restitution in respect of
property of which they have been dispossessed, or compensation in
accordance with international law.
States shall recognize, and respect, indigenous life-styles,
customs, traditions, forms of social organization, use of dress, languages
VIII. Philosophy, outlook and language
States recognize that indigenous languages, philosophy and outlook
are a component of national and universal culture, and as such shall
respect them and facilitate their dissemination.
2. The states shall take measures to see to it 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 official languages.
When indigenous peoples wish, educational systems shall be
conducted in the indigenous languages and incorporate indigenous content,
and that shall also provide the necessary training and means for
complete mastery of the official language or languages.
Indigenous peoples shall be entitled to:
establish and set in motion their own educational programs,
institutions and facilities;
to prepare and implement their own educational plans, programs,
curricula and materials;
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
complementarily with national educational systems.
States shall ensure that those educational systems are equal in all
ways to that provided to the rest of the population.
States shall provide financial and any other type of assistance
needed for the implementation of the provisions of this Article.
X. Spiritual and religious freedom
Indigenous peoples have the right to liberty of conscience, freedom
of religion and spiritual practice for indigenous communities and their
members, a right that implies freedom to conserve them, change them,
profess and propagate them, both publicly and privately.
States shall take necessary measures to ensure that attempts are
not made to forcibly convert indigenous peoples or to impose on them
beliefs against the will of their communities.
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.
XI. Family relations and family ties
Families are a natural and basic component of societies and must be
respected and protected by the state.
Consequently the state shall protect and respect the various
established forms of indigenous organizations relating to family and
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 those peoples, including individual, family and community
XII. Health and wellbeing
The states shall respect indigenous medicine, pharmacology, health
practices and promotion, including preventive and rehabilitative
They shall facilitate the dissemination of those medicines and
practices of benefit to the entire population.
Indigenous peoples have the right to the protection of vital
medicinal plants, animal and minerals.
Indigenous peoples shall be entitled to use, maintain, develop and
manage their own health services, and they shall also have access, without
any discrimination, to all health institutions and services and medical
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.
XIII. Right to environmental protection
Indigenous peoples are entitled to a healthy environment, which is
an essential condition for the enjoyment of the right to life and
Indigenous peoples are entitled to information on the environment,
including information that might ensure their effective participation in
actions and policies that might affect their environment.
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 shall participate fully in formulating and
applying governmental programs of conservation of their lands and
Indigenous peoples shall be entitled to assistance from their
states for purposes of environmental protection, and may request
assistance from international organizations.
FOUR. ORGANIZATIONAL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
Rights of association, assembly, freedom of expression