Even though, I regularly manage my emails, this afternoon unread emails counts 169 on my gmail account. This was the remarkable number that I have heard most of the time on workshops, interviews and discussions, along with abbreviation ILO, that makes ILO169.
I was curious about this issue from long ago, just after the number strike my mind, I google it for further information. To my surprise, the first thing I noticed was, Nepal was only country to ratify ILO169 among eight south Asian countries and second countries among Asia-pacific. But I could not find the name of another country of Asia Pacific, which has ratified the convention before Nepal. [Why it was so important for Nepal?] Even though there are a lot of indigenous people in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Philippines haven’t ratified the Convention yet. The official website says that till date only 22 countries have ratified the convention1. [What about the DEVELOPED countries?]
In terms of using the Convention as a dialogue tool to stabilize the country, Bolivia and Guatemala in Latin America are ahead. The percentage of indigenous people in Bolivia is more than half the population, and it is said that the country has actually seen economic empowerment through ensuring indigenous rights. Guatemala is another Latin American country that has moved ahead2. Whereas, indigenous people accounts for 37.2 percent of total national population of Nepal (NEFIN)
The decrease in signatories can be partially attributed to Convention 169’s inclusion of Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination. Many nation-states are apprehensive of such provisions, arguing that Indigenous autonomy undermines their own sovereignty and governance. Most of the nations that have ratified Convention 169 are in Latin America, where enforcement is weak. Three Non-signatories such as Canada and the United States cite the international community’s inability to enforce these international instruments among their reasons for refusing to ratify them3.
Convention 169 recognizes Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination within a nation-state, while setting standards for national governments regarding Indigenous peoples’ economic, socio-cultural and political rights, including the right to a land base. The convention is law within the nation-states that have ratified it4. The government of Nepal ratified the convention on 22 Aug 2007 and registered the ratification with the ILO director general on 14 Sept the same year.
NEFIN on its website says, “There are public holidays in the name of dog, cow and crow but there are no public holidays for many indigenous festivals” – Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) 5