Areas of Expertise

Gender, equality and diversity

Gender, equality and diversity
© ITCILO/F. Decorato
« October 2019 »

Indigenous and Tribal Peoples

Over 370 million individuals belong to indigenous and tribal peoples. They comprise approximately 5,000 distinct peoples, and their cultures are a heritage of diverse knowledge and ideas that is a resource for the whole world. However, many have lost control over their own development path. They are often excluded from political participation and their economies are being undermined by their lack of control over land and resources. Consequently, indigenous and tribal peoples are often the poorest segment of society and are disproportionately the victims of human rights abuses, conflict, discrimination, child labour, forced labour and trafficking. Indigenous women face additional, gender-based marginalization and discrimination.

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Against this background, what are the options for indigenous and tribal peoples, and their support organizations, for securing their rights better and for participating equitably in national and local development processes? What options do national and local governments have for respecting indigenous and tribal peoples’ rights and for launching inclusive, participatory processes of development that are based on the assets of these communities rather than their perceived deficiencies and needs?

These are some of the questions addressed by ITCILO courses, drawing on the long experience of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights. The ILO has been working with indigenous and tribal peoples since the 1920s and has a double role concerning indigenous issues: it seeks specifically to promote and protect the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples through its Convention No. 169 adopted in 1989; and it seeks to ensure that indigenous and tribal peoples’ issues are taken into account, and that these peoples participate in broader programmes on poverty reduction, social and economic development, employment promotion and the application of international labour standards within ILO member States.

Since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and the recent World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (New York, September 2014), the promotion and protection of indigenous and tribal peoples’ rights has gained further momentum throughout the world. The Outcome Document of the World Conference constitutes a comprehensive road map for action. It encourages the ratification and implementation of Convention No. 169 and attention to indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


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10127 Turin - Italy

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