January 1, 2009 Issue 193 Volume 1
HUMAN RIGHTS DECLARATION REACHES 60 –
BUT ONLY 20
COUNTRIES HAVE SIGNED TRIBAL PEOPLES’ LAW
The 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
[was celebrated on December 10,] but only 20 countries have signed
up to the international law on tribal peoples, whose
rights are routinely violated.
The very existence of many tribal peoples is under increasing
threat. In Paraguay, the last uncontacted Ayoreo-Totobiegosode are
running for their lives as bulldozers rapidly raze their forest.
In India, the Jarawa tribe came into fatal conflict last month with
poachers invading their land, leaving one Jarawa and one poacher
In Botswana, the Kalahari Bushmen are being destroyed by a
government which denies them access to water but is forging ahead
with plans to mine diamonds on their land.
International Labour Organisation Convention 169 (ILO 169) is the
strongest international legal instrument safeguarding tribal
peoples’ rights. It recognises their rights to own their land and to
make decisions about projects that affect them, and it is legally
binding on governments that sign it.
Survival is campaigning for all governments to ratify ILO 169,
strengthening it and giving tribal peoples the best chance of a
Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Sixty years after the
world acknowledged the sanctity of human rights, entire tribes are
facing extinction. There is no excuse for this. Every government
must take responsibility and ratify the law to help ensure their
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