PEOPLES EARTH CHARTER
KARI-OCA CONFERENCE MAY 25-30, 1992
HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
1. We demand the right to life.
2. International Law must deal with the collective human rights of
Indigenous Peoples. (Please note for the purposes of this Declaration and
this statement, any use of the term "Indigenous Peoples" also includes
3. There are many international instruments which deal with the rights of
individuals but there are no Declarations to recognize collective human
rights, therefore, we urge governments to support the United Nations Work
Group on Indigenous Peoples' (UNWGIP) Universal Declaration of Indigenous
rights, which is presently in draft form.
4. There exist many examples of genocide against Indigenous Peoples,
therefore, the Convention Against Genocide must be changed to include the
genocide of Indigenous Peoples.
5. The United Nations should be able to send Indigenous Peoples'
representatives, in a peace-keeping capacity, into Indigenous territories
where conflicts arise. This would be done at the request and consent of
the Indigenous Peoples concerned.
6. The concept of terra nullus must be eliminated from International Law
usage. Many state governments have used internal domestic laws to deny us
ownership of our own lands. These illegal acts should be condemned by the
7. Where small numbers of Indigenous Peoples are residing within state
boundaries, so-called democratic countries have denied Indigenous Peoples
the right of consent about their future, using the notion of majority rule
to decide the future of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples' right of
consent to projects in their own areas must be recognized.
8. We must promote the term "Indigenous Peoples" at all forums. The use of
the term "Indigenous Peoples" must be without qualification.
9. We urge governments to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO)
Convention 169 to guarantee an international legal instrument for
Indigenous Peoples. (Note Group 2 only)
10. Indigenous Peoples' distinct and separate rights within their own
territories must be recognized.
11. We assert our right to free passage through state imposed political
boundaries dividing our traditional territories. Adequate mechanisms must
be established to secure this right.
12. The colonial systems have tried to dominate and assimilate our
peoples. However, our peoples remain distinct despite this pressure.
13. Our Indigenous governments and legal systems must be recognized by the
United Nations, state governments and international legal instruments.
14. Our right to self-determination must be recognized.
15. We must be free from population transfer.
16. We maintain our right to our traditional way of life.
17. We maintain our right to our spiritual way of life.
18. We maintain the right to be free from pressures from multinational
(transnational) corporations upon our lives and lands. All multinational
(transnational) corporations which are encroaching upon Indigenous lands
should be reported to the United Nations Transnational office.
19. We must be free from racism.
20. We maintain the right to decide the direction of our communities.
21. The United Nations should have a special procedure to deal with issues
arising from violations of Indigenous Treaties.
22. Treaties signed between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Peoples
must be accepted as Treaties under International Law.
23. The United Nations must exercise the right to impose sanctions against
governments that violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
24. We urge the United Nations to include the issue of Indigenous Peoples
in the agenda of the World Conference of Human Rights to be held in 1993.
The work, done so far by the United Nations Inter-American Commission of
Human Rights and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights should be
taken into consideration.
25. Indigenous Peoples should have the right to their own knowledge,
language, and culturally appropriate education, including bicultural and
bilingual education. Through recognizing both formal and informal ways,
the participation of family and community is guaranteed.
26. Our health rights must include the recognition and respect of
traditional knowledge held by Indigenous healers. This knowledge,
including our traditional medicines and their preventive and spiritual
healing power, must be recognized and protected against exploitation.
27. The World Court must extend its powers to include complaints by
28. There must be a monitoring system from this conference to oversee the
return of delegates to their territories. The delegates should be free to
attend and participate in international Indigenous conferences.
29. Indigenous women's rights must be respected. Women must be included in
all local, national, regional and international organizations.
30. The above mentioned historical rights of Indigenous Peoples must be
guaranteed in national legislations.
PEOPLES EARTH CHARTER
KARI-OCA CONFERENCE MAY 25-30, 1992
LANDS AND TERRITORIES
31. Indigenous Peoples were placed upon our
Mother, the Earth, by the Creator. We belong to the land. We cannot be
separated from our lands and territories
32. Our territories are living totalities in permanent vital relation
between human beings and nature. Their possession produced the development
of our culture. Our territorial property should be inalienable, unceasable
and not denied title. Legal, economic and technical backup are needed to
33. Indigenous Peoples' inalienable rights to land and resources confirm
that we have always had ownership over our traditional territories. We
demand that this be respected.
34. We assert our rights to demarcate our traditional territories. The
definition of territory includes space (air), land and sea. We must
promote a traditional analysis of traditional land rights in all our
35. Where Indigenous territories have been degraded, resources must be
made available to restore them. The recuperation of those affected
territories is the duty of the respective jurisdiction in all nation
states which cannot be delayed. Within this process of recuperation the
compensation for the historical ecological debt must be taken into
account. Nation states must revise in depth the agrarian, mining and
36. Indigenous Peoples reject the assertion of non-Indigenous laws onto
our lands. States cannot unilaterally extend their jurisdiction over our
lands and territories. The concept of terra nullus should be forever
erased from the law books of states.
37. We, are Indigenous Peoples, must never alienate our lands. We must
always maintain control over the land for future generations.
38. If a non-Indigenous government, individual or corporation wants to use
our lands, then there must be a formal agreement which sets out the terms
and conditions. Indigenous Peoples maintain the right to be compensated
for the use of their lands and resources.
39. Traditional Indigenous territorial boundaries, including the waters,
must be respected.
40. There must be some control placed upon environmental groups who are
lobbying to protect our territories and the species within those
territories. In many instances, environmental groups are more concerned
about animals than human beings. We call for Indigenous Peoples to
determine guidelines prior to allowing environmental groups into their
41. Parks must not be created at the expense of Indigenous Peoples. There
is no way to separate Indigenous Peoples from their lands.
42. Indigenous Peoples must not be removed from their lands in order to
make it available to settlers or other forms of economic activity on their
43. In many instances, the numbers of Indigenous Peoples have been
decreasing due to encroachment by non-Indigenous peoples.
44. Indigenous Peoples should encourage their peoples to cultivate their
own traditional forms of products rather than to use imported exotic crops
which do not benefit local peoples.
45. Toxic wastes must not be deposited in our areas. Indigenous Peoples
must realize that chemicals, pesticides and hazardous wastes do not
benefit the peoples.
46. Traditional areas must be protected against present and future forms
of environmental degradation.
47. There must be a cessation of all uses of nuclear material.
48. Mining of products for nuclear production must cease.
49. Indigenous lands must not be used for the testing or dumping of
50. Population transfer policies by state governments in our territories
are causing hardship. Traditional lands are lost and traditional
livelihoods are being destroyed.
51. Our lands are being used by state governments to obtain funds from the
World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian-Pacific Development
Bank, and other institutions which have led to the loss of our lands and
52. In many countries our lands are being used for military purposes. This
is an unacceptable use of the lands.
53. The colonizer governments have changed the names of our traditional
and sacred areas. Our children learn these foreign names and start to lose
their identity. In addition, the changing of the name of a place
diminishes respect for the spirits which reside in those areas.
54. Our forests are not being used for their intended purposes. The
forests are being used to make money.
55. Traditional activities, such as making pottery, are being destroyed by
the importation of industrial goods. This impoverishes the local peoples.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES EARTH
KARI-OCA CONFERENCE MAY 25-30, 1992
BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION
56. The vital circles are in a continuous
interrelation in such a way that the change of one of its elements affects
57. Climatic changes affect Indigenous Peoples and all humanity. In
addition, ecological systems and their rhythms are affected which
contribute to the deterioration of our quality of life and increase our
58. The forests are being destroyed in the name of development and
economical gains without considering the destruction of ecological
balance. These activities do not benefit human beings, animals, birds and
fish. The logging concessions and incentives to the timber, cattle and
mining industries affecting the ecosystems and the natural resources
should be cancelled.
59. We value the efforts of protection of the biodiversity but we reject
to be included as part of an inert diversity which pretends to be
maintained for scientific and folkloric purposes.
60. The Indigenous Peoples strategies should be kept in a reference
framework for the formulation and application of national policies on
environment and diversity.
PEOPLES EARTH CHARTER
KARI-OCA CONFERENCE MAY 25-30, 1992
61. Indigenous Peoples must consent for all
projects in our territories. Prior to consent being obtained, the people
must be fully and entirely involved in any decisions. They must be given
all the information about the project and its effects. Failure to do so
should be considered a crime against the Indigenous Peoples. The person or
persons who violate this should be tried in a world tribunal within the
control of Indigenous Peoples set for such a purpose. This could be
similar to the trials held after World War II.
62. We have the right to our own development strategies based on our
cultural practices with a transparent, efficient and viable management,
and with economical and ecological viability.
63. Our development and life strategies are obstructed by the interests of
the governments and big companies and by the neo-liberal policies. Our
strategies have, as fundamental condition, the existence of international
relationships based on justice, equity and solidarity between the human
beings and the nations.
64. Any development strategy should prioritize the elimination of poverty,
the climatic guarantee, the sustainable manageability of natural
resources, the continuity of democratic societies and the respect of
65. The global environmental facility should assign, at best, 20% for
Indigenous Peoples' strategies and programs of environmental emergency,
improvement of life quality, protection of natural resources and
rehabilitation of ecosystems. This proposal in the case of South America
and the Caribbean, should be concrete in the Indigenous Development Fund
as a pilot experience in order to be extended to the Indigenous Peoples of
other regions and continents.
66. The concept of development has meant the destruction of our lands. We
reject the current definition of development as being useful to our
peoples. Our cultures are not static and we keep our identity through a
permanent recreation of our life conditions; but all of this is obstructed
in the name of so called developments.
67. Recognizing Indigenous Peoples' harmonious relationship with nature,
Indigenous sustainable development models, development strategies and
cultural values must be respected as distinct and vital sources of
68. Indigenous Peoples have been here since the time before time began. We
have come directly from the Creator. We have lived and kept the earth as
it was on the first day. Peoples who do not belong to the land must go out
from the lands because those things (so called "development" on the land)
are against the laws of the creator.
69(a). In order for Indigenous Peoples to assume control, management and
administration of their territories, development projects must be based on
the principles of self-determination and self-management. (b) Indigenous
Peoples must be self-reliant.
70. If we are going to grow crops, these crops must feed the people. It is
not appropriate that the lands be used to grow crops that do not benefit
the peoples. (a). Regarding Indigenous policies, state governments must
cease attempts of assimilation and integration. (b). Indigenous Peoples
must consent to all projects in their territories. Prior to consent being
obtained, the Peoples must be fully and entirely involved in any
decisions. They must be given all the information about the project and
its effects. Failure to do so should be considered a crime against
Indigenous Peoples. The person or persons responsible should be tried
before a world tribunal, with a balance of Indigenous Peoples, set up for
such a purpose. This could be similar to the trials held after the Second
71. We must never use the term "land claims". It is the non-Indigenous
peoples who do not have any land. All the land is our land. It is
non-Indigenous Peoples who are making claims to our lands. We are not
making claims to our lands.
72. There should be a monitoring body within the United Nations to monitor
all the land disputes around the world prior to development.
73. There should be a United Nations Conference on the topic of
"Indigenous Lands and Development".
74. Non-Indigenous Peoples have come to our lands and resources to benefit
themselves. And to the impoverishment of our peoples. Indigenous Peoples
are victims of development. In many cases Indigenous Peoples are
exterminated in the name of a development program. There are numerous
examples of such occurrences.
75. Development that occurs on Indigenous lands, without the consent of
Indigenous Peoples, must be stopped.
76. Development which is occurring on Indigenous lands is usually decided
without local consultation by those who are unfamiliar with local
conditions and needs.
77. The eurocentric notion of ownership is destroying our peoples. We must
return to our own view of the world, of the land and of development. The
issue cannot be separated from Indigenous People's rights.
78. There are many different types of so-called development: road
construction, communication facilities such as electricity, telephones.
These allow developers easier access to the areas, but the effects of such
industrialization destroy the lands.
79. There is a worldwide move to remove Indigenous Peoples from their
lands and place them in villages. The relocation from the traditional
territories is done to facilitate development.
80. It is not appropriate for governments or agencies to move into our
territories and to tell our people what is needed.
81. In many instances, the state governments have created artificial
entities such as "District Council" in the name of the state government in
order to deceive the international community. These artificial entities
are then consulted about development in the area. The state governments
then claim that Indigenous Peoples were consulted about the project. These
lies must be exposed to the international community.
82. There must be an effective network to disseminate material and
information between Indigenous Peoples. This is necessary to keep informed
about the problems of other Indigenous Peoples.
83. Indigenous Peoples should form and direct their own environmental
PEOPLES EARTH CHARTER
KARI-OCA CONFERENCE MAY 25-30, 1992
CULTURE, SCIENCE AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
84. We feel the Earth as if we are within
our Mother. When the Earth is sick, and polluted, human health is
impossible. To heal ourselves we must heal the planet, and to heal the
planet, we must heal ourselves.
85. We must being to heal from the grass roots level and work towards the
86. The destruction of the culture has always been considered an internal,
domestic problem within national states. The United Nations must set up a
tribunal to review the cultural destruction of Indigenous Peoples.
87. We need to have foreign observers come into our Indigenous territories
to oversee national state elections to prevent corruption.
88. The human remains and artifacts of Indigenous Peoples must be returned
to their original peoples.
89. Our sacred and ceremonial sites should be protected and considered as
the patrimony of Indigenous Peoples and humanity. The establishment of a
set of legal and operational instruments at both national and
international levels would guarantee this.
90. The use of existing Indigenous languages is our right. These languages
must be protected.
91. States that have outlawed Indigenous languages and their alphabets
should be censored by the United Nations.
92. We must not allow tourism to diminish our culture. Tourists come into
the communities and view the people as if Indigenous Peoples were part of
a zoo. Indigenous Peoples have the right to allow or disallow tourism
within their areas.
93. Indigenous Peoples must have the necessary resources and control over
their education systems.
94. Elders must be recognized and respected as teachers of young people.
95. Indigenous wisdom must be recognized and encouraged.
96. The traditional knowledge of herbs and plants must be protected and
passed on to future generations.
97. Traditions cannot be separated from land, territory or science.
98. Traditional knowledge has enabled Indigenous Peoples to survive.
99. The usurping of traditional medicines and knowledge from Indigenous
Peoples should be considered a crime against peoples.
100. Material culture is being used by the non-Indigenous to gain access
to our lands and resources, thus destroying our cultures.
101. Most of the media at this conference were only interested in the
pictures which will be sold for profit. This is another case of
exploitation of Indigenous Peoples. This does not advance the cause of
102. As creators and carriers of civilizations which have given and
continue to share knowledge, experience and values with humanity, we
require that our right to intellectual and cultural properties by
guaranteed and that the mechanism for each implementation be in favour of
our peoples, and studied in depth and implemented.
103. We should list the suspect museums and institutions that have misused
our cultural and intellectual properties.
104. The protection, norms and mechanisms of artistic and artisan creation
of our peoples must be established and implemented in order to avoid
plunder, plagiarism, undue exposure and use.
105. When Indigenous Peoples leave their communities, they should make
every effort to return to the community.
106. In many instances, our songs, dances and ceremonies have been viewed
as the only aspects of our lives. In some instances we have been asked to
change a ceremony or a song to suit the occasion. This is racism.
107. At local, national and international levels, governments must commit
funds to new and existing resources to education and training for
Indigenous Peoples, to achieve their sustainable development, to
contribute and to participate in sustainable and equitable development at
all level. Particular attention should be given to Indigenous women,
children and youth.
108. All kinds of folkloric discrimination must be stopped and forbidden.
109. The United Nations should promote research into Indigenous knowledge
and develop a network of Indigenous sciences.