Key international law on Indigenous peoples ratified

December 18, 2006

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Spain on Wednesday signed up to the world's key international law on Indigenous peoples' rights, becoming only the fourth European country to do so.

The Spanish parliament voted on Wednesday to ratify International Labour Organisation Convention 169 (ILO 169), which recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to ownership of their land. The only other European countries to have signed up are the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.

Survival and other organisations have lobbied for many years for Spain to sign up to the convention.

Roy Sesana, whose people the Kalahari Bushmen won a historic legal battle on Wednesday for their right to return to their land, said, ‘I am very happy today to hear this news from Spain. We hope that other countries will join Spain and stand tall for tribal peoples.’

In Brazil, Jacir de Souza of the Makuxi tribe said, ‘ILO Convention 169 has given Indigenous peoples… a space for ourselves. Now we have a means to highlight abuses of our rights, and to run our own education system. The Spanish government’s ratification sends an important message of support to Indigenous peoples.’

Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, ‘We're delighted that Spain has adopted this law. It contrasts starkly with Britain and France's persistent refusal to sign up. We hope the British and French will say loud and clear to their governments, 'Now it's your turn.'’

Read the text of ILO 169

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]