Strengthening of indigenous organisations in Latin America (PROINDÍGENA)

Project description

Title: Strengthening of indigenous organisations in Latin America (PROINDÍGENA)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru
Lead executing agency: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)
Overall term: 2014 to 2016

Mujeres del Pueblo Saraguro con el Presidente de la Federación Indígena Interprovincial de Saraguro (FIIS) © GIZ (Tato Carrillo)


In addition to universal human rights, indigenous peoples also have a claim to indigenous rights. In 1989, the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) agreed on a ‘convention concerning indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries’ (Convention No. 169). Extensive collective rights, for example cultural and territorial rights, are anchored in this convention along with the right to free, prior and informed consent with respect to policies and programmes that affect them, and also the right of self-determination. In 2007, these rights were extended and broadened further through the declaration of the United Nations on the rights of indigenous peoples.

The ILO No. 169 convention has been ratified by almost all Latin American countries and its contents have also been anchored in some cases in new constitutions; but the systematic implementation of the convention still poses major challenges for many countries. Progress has been made with respect to the legal recognition of indigenous territories, but the implementation of state support for indigenous self-administration is making only slow progress.

Also with respect to the sustainable utilisation of natural resources, indigenous territories find themselves under significant pressure as states give priority to the exploitation of natural resources without considering the possible negative impact on the environment and cultural diversity. The indigenous peoples affected often receive little benefit from natural resources. Conflicts can emerge between communities, private companies and public authorities, particularly where a state reserves for itself the right to distribute strategic concessions without giving due consideration to indigenous groups’ objections and without agreeing to share the resulting profits with them.

Only too rarely do nations use their own policy approaches and sufficiently specialised institutions to address major challenges.


To improve the foundations for respecting, protecting and ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples, and particularly their territorial rights.

Indígene Männer und Frauen der Shuar-Nationalität in der Provinz Zamora Chinchipe © GIZ


The PROINDÍGENA regional project supports the promotion of opportunities for sharing experiences on the local, national and regional levels between different indigenous authorities and experts, government representatives, NGOs, scholars and other relevant parties on the topic of indigenous self-administration. The project fosters the comparison of standards and experiences with their implementation and the dissemination of knowledge on the topic of indigenous self-administration from a regional perspective.

Training courses for indigenous authorities and specialists in connection with indigenous self-administration will be expanded. PROINDÍGENA promotes increasing the financial support from public funds for the self-administration of indigenous territories, and it supports regional indigenous umbrella organisations in their efforts to impact international agreements that affect indigenous rights. The knowledge management of indigenous rights both within and outside of German international cooperation activities is to be developed further.

A special focus is placed on the systematic participation of indigenous women and youths in all activities within the scope of the project.

Results achieved so far

  • Supra-regional comparative studies on the legal framework for the self-administration of indigenous territories in the Andes region, and the current status of implementation with specific recommendations for improvements;
  • Coordination with a network of focal points for indigenous rights in bilateral GIZ projects in Latin America;
  • Establishment of cooperation with the UN High Commission for Human Rights as a future counterpart of PROINDÍGENA;
  • Promotion of the elaboration of a women's agenda for COICA;
  • Advising COICA and CAOI and their member organisations on their preparations for the COP 20 in Lima;
  • Dissemination of relevant processes and information for the self-administration of indigenous territories and their natural resources via the website, together with partners and other interested parties.