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IWGIA's Statutes




1. The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) is a politically independent, non-profit international human rights organisation. IWGIA was founded on August 22nd, 1968.

2.IWGIA is a membership organisation. Place of registration is Denmark. The Secretariat is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. IWGIA’s financial year follows the calendar year.


3.1 The aim of IWGIA is to defend and promote the rights of indigenous peoples in concurrence with their own efforts and aspirations. This is done by

  • documenting and disseminating information about indigenous peoples;
  • advocating the rights of indigenous peoples in national and international fora;
  • supporting human rights projects and other forms of activities with a view to strengthen indigenous peoples and their organizations at the local, national and international level.

3.2 IWGIA shall not permit any of its income or assets to be distributed or applied for benefit of a private person or non-charitable organization other than pursuant to the conduct of its charitable activities and must apply all income and assets in fulfilment of its statutory objective as mentioned above.

International Membership

4. IWGIA has an international membership base and a broad international network.

5. Any person committed to IWGIA’s objectives and willing to support its work can become a member.

6. Any organisation, institution, association or interest group supporting IWGIA’s objectives and wishing to support the work of IWGIA can, after approval by IWGIA’s board, become an institutional member.

7. Members shall not be held personally liable for debts or liabilities incurred by IWGIA.

8. The Board can establish other types of memberships.

9. Membership fees are determined by the Board.

10. Memberships are registered with the Secretariat.

11. The Board can decide to exclude members of the organisation if they are deemed to act in ways contrary to the objectives of the organisation, or do not pay their membership fee.

12. Every second year, all members are called for a Members’ Meeting where members get the opportunity to express their views with regard to the work of the Board and the organization. The Members’ Meeting has consultative status and is an advisory body to the Board.

Governing structure

13. The International Board (the Board) is the highest governing body of the organisation.

14. The Chairperson’s signature binds IWGIA’s activities. In case of the Chairperson’s absence, the Vice-chairperson will take over the Chairperson’s duties.

15. The executive body of the organisation is the International Secretariat (the Secretariat), which is headed by the Executive Director.


16. The Board has a membership of 7 and is composed as follows:

  • 2 members are elected by and among all registered members.
  • 2 members are recruited by the Board from organisations/institutions with a particular expertise in human rights and /or indigenous rights.
  • 3 members are appointed by the Board in order to supplement and strengthen the Board’s expertise on aspects of importance to the organisation and its work.

The Secretariat has a permanent observer, who is elected by and among the staff for a period of three years.

17. The Executive Director of the Secretariat is the secretary of the Board.

Responsibilities of the Board

18. The Board is responsible for IWGIA’s overall policy and the financial affairs of the organisation and shall approve transactions of overall importance for the management and development of the organization. Under no circumstances, except when expressly provided by law, shall the members of the Board be held personally liable for debts or liabilities incurred by IWGIA.

19. Members of the Board are expected to provide specialised information and knowledge about their respective fields of expertise and to contribute to the promotion of IWGIA’s mission in relevant fora.

20. Board members serve in their own personal capacity.

21. The Board meets at least twice a year. The Executive (ref.: Art. 44) may call for additional meetings as needed. Additional meetings are conducted via electronic media. In the interim periods between Board meetings, urgent matters are dealt with by the Executive.

22. The agenda of the Board meetings will include but not be limited to the following items:

  • Adoption of the agenda
  • Adoption of minutes from previous Board meetings
  • Reports on current work of IWGIA
  • Future work programme
  • Report on the financial situation Other relevant policy issues
  • Report from Board members
  • Date for the next board meeting

23. The Board approves the annual accounts and the annual budget.

24. The Board appoints the auditor general, who shall be a State-Authorized Public Accountant.

25. The Board appoints the Executive Director.

26. Decisions are usually made according to consensus. If consensus is not reached a vote will be taken. Voting is made by simple majority (except in case of dissolution of the organisation) and in case of equal votes the Chairperson’s vote is decisive.

27. The Board forms a quorum when more than half of the Board is present.

28. It is the responsibility of the Board to request the secretariat to call for elections and for the bi-annual Members’ Meeting.

The Secretariat

29. IWGIA's daily work is coordinated by the Secretariat. The Secretariat works on a co-operative basis under the leadership of the Director.

30. All the positions in the Secretariat, with the exception of the Executive Director, who is appointed by the Board, are appointed by the Executive Director.

31. The Secretariat is responsible for communicating with the members.


Time Frame

32. Board members are elected, appointed or recruited for a three-year period. Incumbent Board members can be re-elected or re-appointed for a maximum of two more consecutive terms.

33. All appointments and elections to the Board take place in November every year. All elections are made by ballot.

34. New elected/appointed Board members take up their posts on the 1st of January the following year.

Voting Rights - members

35. All members who are registered when the election is called can vote.

36. The election is called by the Secretariat. Notice of the election and call for candidates is given via e-mail to all members no later than four weeks before the election is called.


37. All Individual registered members are eligible for election to the Board if they have been recommended by three members.

38. The name of a candidate including his/her signature and that of three recommending members must reach the Secretariat in writing no later than two weeks before the election is called.

39. Each candidate must provide a short CV and the basis for his/her candidature. Guidelines for candidates will stipulate further details.

Election procedures

 40. Voting ballots and the names and presentation of the candidates are sent by e-mail to all members no later than one week before Election Day.

41. Each member has as many votes as the number of positions to be filled in the election. A voting member can only give one vote to one candidate.

42. The candidates with most votes are elected to become Board members.

43. The result of the election is announced by the Chair to the Board and the members immediately afterwards.

Constitution of the Board

44. The Board constitutes itself annually during its first meeting. The Chair and Vice-Chair make up the Executive. The position of Chairperson or the Vice-Chair person cannot be occupied by the institutional recruited members.

45. In the case that a Board member leaves before his/her period expire or that he/she is absent from two (2) consecutive Board meetings, the Board can decide to appoint a replacement member who will serve as a Board member until the next regularly-scheduled election. The Board may also decide to call for an extraordinary election if several positions become vacant.


46. Amendments to IWGIA’s statutes can be made provided that they are submitted in writing to the Board one month before a Board meeting and if two-thirds of the Board agree to them. The new statutes must be approved by the members in writing. The changes are adopted when a simple majority of the votes cast are in favour.


47. Dissolution of the organisation can only be effected / decided provided that a written warning of three months has been given to the Board and two thirds of the Board are in agreement. Should this be the case, the Board shall decide by simple majority how the organisation’s funds should be used taking into consideration that funds should go to one or more organisations, resident in an EU or EEA country and working on a non-commercial basis for the protection of indigenous peoples’ political, economic and social rights.

Coming into force

48. The present statutes came into force on 21 January 2017 and replace the statutes dated 08 December 2015, 01 November 2014, 1 March 2013, 1 June 2011, 7 February 2004, 27 May 2000, 28 May 1994, December 1989, 1 June 1985, 20 February 1981 and 10 March 1978, the latter having replaced the rules and directives that had been in force since IWGIA started its activity following its constitution during the International Congress of Americanists in August 1968. 

Adopted by the Board: 11 January 2017

Approved by the Membership: 20 January 2017

Download Statutes



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
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