First African country ratifies international law for tribal peoples

April 27, 2010

Bayaka ‘Pygmies’, Central African Republic © Salomé/Survival

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The Central African Republic has ratified International Labour Organization Convention 169 on the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples. It is the first African country to do so.

Convention 169 is the only international law for tribal peoples, recognizing their land rights and setting standards regarding consultation and consent. By ratifying it, the Central African Republic, home to some ‘Pygmy’ peoples, has affirmed its commitment to their rights (at least on paper).

It brings the total number of ratifications to 21, joining Spain, Nepal and Chile which ratified in the last few years, and will increase pressure on other African countries to follow suit. Only four European countries have ratified so far: Denmark, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands.

The news comes days after New Zealand reversed its three-year opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and an announcement that the USA is reviewing its position on the declaration.

Unlike the declaration, Convention 169 is legally binding. Survival is calling on all countries to ratify it: the more countries that do so, the more force it has.