Nicaragua’s National Assembly last week ratified the only international law for indigenous peoples’ rights, International Labor Organization Convention 169, making it the twenty-second country to do so. ILO 169 sets legally binding standards for the territorial and self-determination rights of indigenous and tribal peoples everywhere. By signing the Convention, Nicaragua has committed to respecting and upholding these rights.
More than half of all the countries to ratify the Convention so far are in South and Central America. In April, the Central African Republic became the first African country to ratify ILO 169, just days after New Zealand reversed its opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The United States is also reviewing its position on the Declaration. The UN Declaration sets an important set of standards regarding the rights of indigenous peoples, but unlike ILO 169, it is not legally binding. (Survival International, May 25)