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Indigenous Peoples: legal resources: Latin America

Subjects: Law - Foreign Law


(See box to right for links to ILO Convention and UN Declaration. See below for selection of acts relevant to indigenous people of specific countries)

Case law

Two of the most famous cases relating to indigenous peoples in Latin America are Aguinda v. ChevronTexaco and Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni Community v. Nicaragua. The former is a world-famous case of Ecuadorian indigenous communities in the Amazon against the oil giant, the other a case over land title in Nicaragua. 

Indigenous peoples of Latin America

The many groups of indigenous peoples of Latin America face legal issues around lost land and mass urbanisation. In many Latin American countries, indigenous peoples lack a voice in government decision-making. There are, of course, exceptions to this; Honduras has created the position of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Ethnic Groups and Cultural Heritage. Bolivia's current president, Evo Morales, hails from indigenous roots. Twelve of the Latin American countries have to date ratified ILO Convention No. 169, and the majority support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Inter-Amercian Commission on Human Rights seeks to promote and support the rights of indigneous peoples in Latin America.

Electronic resources

Journals and articles

Useful journals can be found at Internat 300 and at General 300. The journals below include useful articles:

Human Rights Quarterly: shelfmark General 300 H58 (also available online through SOLO)

Journal of Transnational Law and Policy: shelfmark Internat 300 J128 (see vol 19, 2009)

The American Journal of International Law: shelfmark Internat 300 A100


See also numerous relevant and current (2012 / 2013) articles on the BBC website on Latin American indigenous peoples.

Related Commentary

SOLO searches may well reveal that the Library of the Latin American Centre (Oxford) has useful material. To find out more about this Library please use link below.