Nº 8/02


At a meeting held with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Government of Nicaragua reiterated its commitment to enforcing the Judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of the Awas Tingni Community.


In its Judgment of August 31, 2001, the Court recognized the right of indigenous peoples to collective ownership when it declared that: “Among indigenous peoples there is a communitarian tradition regarding a communal form of collective property of the land, in the sense that ownership of the land is not centered on an individual but rather on the group and its community. Indigenous groups, by the fact of their very existence, have the right to live freely in their own territory; the close ties of indigenous people with the land must be recognized and understood as the fundamental basis of their cultures, their spiritual life, their integrity, and their economic survival. For indigenous communities, relations to the land are not merely a matter of possession and production but a material and spiritual element which they must fully enjoy, even to preserve their cultural legacy and transmit it to future generations”


Dr. Santiago Canton notes that:  This decision transcends the frontiers of Nicaragua and the Americas and represents one of the most notable successes in the effort to protect indigenous peoples throughout the world.”


On February 22, 2002, the Commission met with the Representative of the Mission of Nicaragua to the OAS, Ambassador Lombardo Martínez, with a view to initiating the process of enforcing the Judgment of the Court, which ruled that the State of Nicaragua must delimit, demarcate and grant title to the land belonging to the members of the Awas Tingni Indigenous Community, situated on the Atlantic Coast.


In the presence of Messrs: Dean Claudio Grossman representing the IACHR; Dr. Santiago Canton, Executive Secretary; Dr. Bertha Santoscoy, attorney for Nicaraguan affairs; Professor James Anaya, legal representative of the Awas Tingni Community; and Mr. Steve Tullberg, representative of the Indian Law Resource Center, and in compliance with the Judgment of the Court, Ambassador Lombardo Martínez handed over a check in the amount of US$30,000 for delivery through the Inter-American Commission to the Awas Tingni Indigenous Community for the expenses and costs incurred by the members of the Community and their representatives.


Ambassador Martínez declared that the check symbolized the desire and firm commitment of the State and Government of Nicaragua to comply fully with the Court’s decision.  The Ambassador added that  this act also reaffirms the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and the due legal protection which the State must at all times provide, as part of the national agenda of President Enrique Bolaños Gayer”.


The representative of the IACHR, Claudio Grossman, declared that:  This is the first step in the implementation of the Court’s decision, which we trust will be fully enforced, including the demarcation of indigenous lands.”


At the conclusion of the meeting, the Commission and the parties agreed to submit a plan of action to continue with the implementation of the Court’s decision.  To that end, a meeting will be held in Managua in the third week of March 2002.  The Commission thanked the Government of Nicaragua for its willingness to contribute to the dialogue and for its action to reaffirm its commitment to carry forward the implementation of the Court’s Judgment and it reiterated its readiness to cooperate fully with the parties.



Washington, D.C., February 22, 2002