During the decade of the 1990s, a strong and vibrant movement of
indigenous and ethnic minorities emerged in Latin America, embracing
common demands for state recognition as part of a new and more inclusive
concept of citizenship. Most of these demands were included in the
international and regional human rights agreements which many Latin
America countries have ratified. By doing so, states formally recognise
indigenous and ethnic minorities as a collective actor with rights that
must be protected and guaranteed, in particular by harmonising domestic
legal frameworks and building innovative public policies that recognise
these groups as a community that shares a common identity and enjoys
specific rights. This ELLA Guide analyses how Latin American countries
have worked to recognise indigenous and ethnic minority rights, in
particular by including collective rights in their constitutions and
domestic legal frameworks, building public policies with a pluricultural
approach and adopting new forms of recognition when gross human rights
violations have been committed. The legal development of these rights at
the international level, and the regional court’s activism, have also
been key to ensuring these rights are ultimately realised. The Guide
covers these responses at the country and regional level, as well as
highlighting key organisations and publications that may prove to be
useful resources for readers in other contexts.
The international and regional development of collective rights has
helped to strengthen indigenous and ethnic minorities’ demands for
recognition as part of a new, more inclusive concept of citizenship.
Building public policies inspired by intercultural principles represents
a useful tool for indigenous and ethnic minorities’ empowerment, while
at the same time that dealing with structural exclusion.
The Latin American experience demonstrates that a regional human rights
court can be effective in pushing forward progressive improvements in
indigenous and ethnic minority rights.
Toledo, C. ELLA Guide: Promoting Indigenous and Ethnic Minority Rights in Latin America. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 16 pp.