Indigenous peoples: interculturalism and rights

Indigenous people

Region countries have Instruments on Indigenous people

Policies and instruments

Latin America is home to more than 800 indigenous peoples with a population estimated at 45 million in 2010. They are characterized by their broad demographic, social, territorial and political diversity, ranging from people living in voluntary isolation to those dwelling in major urban centres. The tenacious resistance of indigenous peoples finds its expression today, as part of a global process, in the introduction of new political and territorial situations based on the framework of international rights standards that are binding on States. Although the region has made undeniable progress in applying those rights, there are still persistent gaps, and inequalities remain profound, reflecting the structural discrimination affecting indigenous peoples.

The Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development expresses the clear commitment of States to continue moving forward with the exercise of the rights of indigenous peoples, as a priority aspect of strengthening their democracies, a process that goes hand-in-hand with a critical view of development and the growing conviction that it must be focused on the values of equality and cultural diversity. Hence, the States agreed upon seven specific priority measures relating to indigenous peoples. At the same time, however, the situation of these peoples must be considered in a cross-cutting and comprehensive manner in all the measures established in the Consensus. Thus, the Consensus reinforces and complements the Cairo Programme of Action with regard to indigenous peoples (particularly measures 6.25, 6.26, 6.27 and 8.16, on demographic dynamics, territory and health).

Priority Measures

  • Indigenous peoples rights

    Respect and implement the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as Convention No. 169 of the International Labour Organization on indigenous and tribal peoples —and call on those countries that have not already done so to sign it and ratify it— adapting legal frameworks and formulating the policies necessary for their implementation, with the full participation of these peoples, including indigenous peoples that live in cities.
  • Indigenous peoples and demographic dynamics.

    Consider the special demographic dynamic of indigenous peoples in public policy design, with special emphasis on indigenous peoples threatened with extinction, those who have no contact with the outside world, those living in voluntary isolation or that are in a phase of initial contact, and respect their right to self-determination.
  • Traditional medicine and indigenous health practices.

    Guarantee indigenous peoples’ right to health, including sexual rights and reproductive rights, and their right to their own traditional medicines and health practices, especially as regards reducing maternal and child mortality considering their socio-territorial and cultural specificities as well as the structural factors that hinder the exercise of this right.
  • Indigenous peoples and territorial rights

    Respect and guarantee the territorial rights of indigenous peoples, including those of peoples living in voluntary isolation and those in the initial phase of contact, with special attention to the challenges presented by extractive industries and other major global investments, mobility and forced displacements, and design policies that facilitate free, prior and informed consultation on matters that affect these peoples, pursuant to the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Right to communication and information of indigenous peoples

    Guarantee indigenous peoples’ right to communication and information, ensuring that national statistics respect the principle of self-identification, as well as the generation of knowledge and reliable and timely information on indigenous peoples through participatory processes, with reference to their requirements and international recommendations relating to these issues.