Indigenous peoples in Morocco

The Amazigh (Berber) peoples are the indigenous peoples of North Africa.

The most recent census in Morocco (2006) estimated the number of Amazigh speakers to be 28% of the population. However, the Amazigh associations strongly challenge this and instead claim a rate of 65 to 70%.

This means that the Amazigh-speaking population may well number around 20 million in Morocco, and around 30 million throughout North Africa and the Sahel as a whole.

The Amazigh people have founded an organisation called the "Amazigh Cultural Movement" (ACM) to advocate for their rights. It is a civil society movement based on universal values of human rights.

There are now more than 800 Amazigh associations established throughout the whole of Morocco. It is a civil society movement based on universal values of human rights.

The administrative and legal system of Morocco has been highly Arabised, and the Amazigh culture and way of life is under constant pressure to assimilate. Morocco is a unitary state with a centralised authority, a single religion, a single language and systematic marginalisation of all aspects of the Amazigh identity.

The 2011 Constitution of Morocco

The new Constitution of 2011 now officially recognises the Amazigh identity and language.

This could be a very positive and encouraging step forward for the Amazigh people of Morocco but unfortunately the official implementation is still awaiting enactment of the organic law that will establish rules as to how Tamazight (the Amazigh language) is to be officially implemented, along with methods for integrating it into teaching and into life generally as an official language.

Work to harmonise the legal arsenal with the new Constitution has not, in fact, yet commenced and no steps have been taken to implement the Constitution.

Legislation Concernig Indigenous Peoples

Morocco has not ratified ILO Convention 169 and did not vote in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007.

Yearly Update

Download the 2016 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Morocco to learn about major developments and events during 2015.