IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
Since 1968, IWGIA has cooperated with Indigenous Peoples' organisations and international institutions to promote recognition and implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. IWGIA works to empower Indigenous Peoples through documentation, capacity development and advocacy on a local, regional and international level. To achieve our mission we provide documentation, support advocacy and empower indigenous peoples’ organisations and institutions via global partnerships.
IWGIA was founded in 1968 by anthropologists alarmed about the ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples taking place in the Amazon. The aim was to establish a network of researchers and human right activists to document the situation of Indigenous Peoples and advocate for an improvement of their rights.
Today Indigenous Peoples from all over the world are involved in IWGIA's global network. Still, the key drivers for change in our work are documentation, empowerment and advocacy.
Five historical facts about IWGIA
- IWGIA was founded as a working group in 1968 by a group of concerned scholars who were acting on reports of gross violations of human rights committed against Indigenous Peoples in Latin America
- IWGIA initially focused on Indigenous Peoples in Latin America and Asia but, from the late 1980s on, we also began working with Indigenous Peoples in Russia and Africa
- Every year since 1986, IWGIA has published The Indigenous World, a yearbook that provides unique insights into and updates on the development of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The 2020 version includes an overview of Indigenous Peoples in 66 countries plus 17 international processes. You can download The Indigenous World for free here >>
- In 1989, IWGIA obtained Observer NGO status at the United Nations and uses this to facilitate access on the part of Indigenous Peoples’ organisations that would not otherwise be able to participate
- In 2018, IWGIA worked with 42 strategic and project partners. We have 31 projects around the world
We work for a world where Indigenous Peoples’ voices are heard and their rights are implemented.
A world where all Indigenous Peoples fully enjoy their rights, participate and are consulted on decisions that affect their lives. We exist to ensure a world where Indigenous Peoples can sustain and develop their societies based on their own practices, priorities and visions.
Integrity - Independence - Innovation - Urgency - Respect
Five major achievements for indigenous peoples’ rights
IWGIA has been pivotal in many positive developments and the following are five of the many achievements we have been involved in:
- Instrumental in the development of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in 2002 where Indigenous Peoples can advance their issues. Read how Indigenous Peoples innovated the UN system in the process of creating UNPFII here >>
- Supporting the development of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa in the 00’s and thus helped Indigenous Peoples to get their rights recognized in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Read more here >>
- Protecting and supporting the Aché people in Paraguay when they were hunted down and exposed to gross human rights violations during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Read more about the case here >>
- Supporting Indigenous Peoples in Latin America to develop their land titling schemes from the 1990s so they can claim their ancestral land.
- Supporting the creation and adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 that has since been a point of reference for indigenous peoples defending their rights.
Together with our partners we design and implement activities and projects for Indigenous Peoples’ organisations and institutions in order to connect local, regional and international demands.
We ensure that indigenous voices are heard by facilitating their participation in the UN system and in national dialogues. Our longstanding partnership with indigenous peoples organisations and human rights institutions has created a global network that inspires change through sharing of good practices and experiences.
Observer status and expert memberIWGIA has consultative/observer status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Arctic Council and and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). IWGIA has observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). IWGIA staff served from 2002 until 2020 as an expert member of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities (WGIP) of the African Commission.
Networks across the globeIWGIA is an active member of European networks and coalitions such as the European Network for Indigenous Peoples (ENIP), the Forum for Development Cooperation for Indigenous Peoples, the International Land Coalition (ILC), the Coalition of European Lobbies on Eastern African Pastoralism (CELEP) and the Working Group on Human Rights and Climate Change (WG HRCC).